Greece: 500 Culture Ministry staff to be suspended, then hired back for fewer hours&lower wages, or fired

Posted: 03/08/2013 in free archaeology, News & Analysis, resistance
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Yesterday, archaeologists protested in front of the Acropolis (and other civil servants rallied elsewhere); (some) museums ‘closed in protest’ (and other public sector workers used work stoppages to express their discontent). They are maintaining and building resistance against austerity.

Public servants have already had their ‘salaries repeatedly cut‘ over the past four years; but the Greek government is still trying to sate the appetite of the troika (the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)). So, 25,000 public servants are going to be suspended without pay for eight months; after that, about (or at least) 8,000 of them are going to be made unemployed. 500 of the people who are going to be suspended are employees of the Ministry of Culture.

Whether an employee is fired‘ or not ‘will depend on criteria such as work experience…’ Yet, unless they have permanent positions, archaeologists can only work for the state for 60 months (5 years) at most. Moreover, since the 2004 presidential decree of the “eikositetramino (εικοσιτετράμηνο)”, the “twenty-four-month [rule]”, archaeologists have been prohibited from employment on any contract for more than two years (and from re-employment on any similar contract).

Thousands of archaeology graduates try to get temporary contracts for excavation, post-excavation analysis, etc.; but, already in 2009, ‘90% [were] out of service (they [had] been laid off or [were] working without pay in expectation [or, rather, hope] of re-employment) [90% σήμερα είναι εκτός Υπηρεσίας (έχει απολυθεί ή δουλεύει αμισθί εν αναμονή επαναπρόσληψης)]’.

So Greek cultural heritage workers, who were already poor and insecure, who already found it difficult to sustain themselves and to develop themselves as professionals long before the crisis, are going to be prime candidates for forced unemployment.

State archaeologists are ‘preparing to step up protests, and… to decide on strikes’. The head of the Association of Greek Archaeologists (SEA), Despina Koutsoumba, explained to the Associated Press (AP):

As things stand, we don’t have enough people to function properly. We have to cover 19,000 archaeological sites and 210 museums nationwide, as well as several hundred archaeological excavations in progress all over the country….

We have 6,600 staff at the ministry of culture and sport, and they will dismiss 500. But they will just have to hire that number back again – of course on part-time contracts and for less money….

We don’t believe they really have a plan…. This is a head count. And now we have got to the point where they are chopping off those heads.

  1. […] Greece: 500 Culture Ministry staff to be suspended, then hired back for fewer hours&lower wages,… […]

  2. MyBones says:

    True. In Greece, there is no such thing as ‘commercial’ archaeology. Archaeologists are only employed by the state. So the options for employment are ever more hammered. The situation in Greek archaeology currently reflects the situation in the Greek public sector in general: it crumbles under pressures for public-sector cuts, after decades of unfair employment nepotism among family and friends. It is characteristic that there isn’t even a unified archaeology association: the ‘lucky’ archaeologists who have secured a permanent public post have one association, the ‘unlucky’ ones who didn’t have connections and are employed temporarily have a different association. The first don’t even acknowledge the others as ‘colleagues’, not even those Greek archaeologists working abroad. This sad situation was the status-quo for years, and the Association of Greek Archaeologists, representing the permanent ones, never fought to change it.

    But now that the 500 ‘permanent’ posts are in jeopardy, we hear the (overdue) cries and complaints. Too little too late, I say!

    The problem that this unstable situation presents is a grave danger for the Greek antiquities, which are of international importance. Lack of funds and personnel means more opportunities for grave-robbers and lack of proper surveys and guarding.

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