The State Auditors Court dropped a bombshell: it ruled that municipality workers with extended work contracts will have to return the salaries they received in the time their contracts were extended. The Court considers the extension of contracts even to one year as against the constitution. The decision will affect 15,000 municipality workers.
According to information leaked to Greek media, the Plenary Session of the Court of Auditors is considering to declare the extensions of contracts for municipality workers as unconstitutional.
With a vote 17:14 the court decided that payment orders to workers with extended contracts cannot be executed and furthermore that workers have to return the salaries they received during the period they worked under extended contract.
Those with contracts extended until 31. December 2017 will not able to receive their salaries.
In a previous decision the court had ruled that such contracts cannot be modified to “work contracts of unlimited time.”
The government reacted angrily and described as the leakage of the decision to the media as “unacceptable.”
The possibility to extend contracts for municipality workers was foreseen under the laws issued by the Labor ministry in 2015, in the first year of SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition government.
“The government was trying to secure permanent jobs for those who were hired at the municipalities in 2015 with 8-month work contracts,” media note.
The official Court ruling is expected early next week.
Right after the first bailout in 2010 and the hiring quotas in the public sector, municipalities became a pool for job creations. People would be hired with 8-month contracts, those with political affiliation to the parties running the municipalities would have their contracts extended again and again. With the option to secure a permanent work place. The rest would return to the unemployment agency after their contract expired.
It looks as if the current government tried to secure permanent jobs at the municipalities per legislation.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that the government is committed that municipality workers paid in full.
Interior Minister Panos Skourletis announced that there will be a new legislation to deal with the issue and stressed that these contracts help municipalities to cover extraordinary needs.
But the big question remains what will happen with those still working on extended contracts. The Council of Auditors has the power to block the payments.