European creditors are furious at the Greek government plan to restore Christmas and Easter bonuses for thousands of civil servants and raise private and public sector pensions by 20%-25%. This will be the second time Greece proceeds to a unilateral action within a week ignoring lenders’ terms and conditions
Over the weekend, the government in Athens announced it will restore the payment of Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses to civil servants and to pensioners of the public and the private sector. The bonuses were cut after the first bailout agreement in 2010. The measure is to go into effect in April after a necessary voting at the Palriament plenary. The Easter bonus is to be paid a week before the Greek Orthodox Easter on April 28.
In the same announcement the labor ministry said it plans to raise pensions of private and public sector by 20% to 25%. This measure is expected to be implemented as of May, because Athens fears angry reactions by its lenders. Pensions have suffered a series of cuts since 2010, with majority of Greek pensioners of the private sector to be unable to make ends meet. The pension rise might be subject of tough negotiations at the Eurogroup on April 5.
“There is no way we accept any rise pension rise,” an EU official said under the usual conditions of anonymity and implied to sanction Greece. “Not only will the disbursement of one billion euros will be cancelled, Greece may also face a heavy fine for violating the 3. bailout agreement,” the official added.
However, prime minister Alexis Tsipras is determined to proceed with the extras, nevertheless, ahead of the European elections in May. Public opinion polls show SYRIZA to be losing to main opposition New Democracy by 6% to 10%.
“Bailout agreements are over, our European friends can no more dictate us what to do,” a government source told media.
Upon hearing the news, Greek pensioners rushed to the nearest beach and started to dance Syrtaki.