State Council finds uniformed officer wage cuts unconstitutional
According to the State Council Assembly, the cuts in the wages of uniformed officers (military, police, coast guard etc) that were implemented due to the financial crisis are unconstitutional. The State Council ruling will be published within the next trimester detailing the extent of unconstitutionality.
In January 2013, a number of federations and unions of uniformed officers from the military, police, coast guard and others challenged the government’s decision to cut their wages, which included the retroactive return of “unnecessarily paid out wages” effective from 1st of August 2012.
Among others, the uniformed officer unions and federations claim in their appeal that the wage cuts implemented in the third memorandum goes against the constitutional principle of proportionality, while also arguing that the cuts are against the European Convention of Human Rights provisions on fair pay and decent living.
As expected, this development could prove to be rather problematic for the cash-strapped coalition government, as it has committed to invest a significant portion of 2013’s primary surplus into supporting social groups that have been hit the hardest by the financial and ensuing humanitarian crisis, while pleasing the country’s creditors at the same time.
Reactions to State Council ruling
The government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou reported to Vima 99.5 FM that «the government respects the Council of State’s decision, however [the government] cannot respond until it has seen the ruling«.
The Minister of Health Adonis Georgiadis, who appeared on ANT1’s morning chat show, commented that “regardless of the number of judicial rulings, we cannot give birth to money” and that “the country’s problem is not legislative; every decision that is cancelled must automatically be replaced by another”.
Additionally, the Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis pointed out on SKAI TV’s morning chat show that this is not the court’s final decision, but irrespective of the outcome, the State Council’s rulings must be respected.
Meanwhile, SYRIZA MP Alexis Mitropoulos argued that the Council’s decision could set a precedent regarding intervening in wages and pensions, and could gradually prove how the austerity measures are unconstitutional. Mr. Mitropoulos further explained that this ruling should be applied to other sectors, where wages and pensions are drastically cut, in accordance with the “comparable competitive devaluation clause” with South-eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Romania etc), as pointed out in the second bailout memorandum.