Greek teachers, civil servants to strike against layoffs

ATHENS Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:18pm EDT

Protesters holding banners cast their shadows as they march during an anti-government rally in front of the parliament in Athens September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Protesters holding banners cast their shadows as they march during an anti-government rally in front of the parliament in Athens September 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek teachers and civil servants will stay off work next week, continuing a strike to protest against public sector layoffs and forced job transfers demanded by the country's international lenders, their unions said on Saturday.

Athens has designated thousands of public sector workers for possible dismissal to qualify for further bailout funding as an inspection by European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials begins on Sunday.

The so-called "mobility scheme", where workers will be evaluated and either transferred to other jobs or dismissed, has met fierce resistance from unions, that fear firings will worsen the plight of families hurt by a six-year recession.

Teachers will stay away from work on Monday and Tuesday, and their union said it would meet on Wednesday to decide if it needs to take further action.

Civil servants will strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both sets of workers also held strikes this week.

A total of 25,000 workers must be placed in the scheme by year-end under the terms of Greece's EU/IMF bailout, and the government must also meet a target of 15,000 mandatory exits in 2013-2014 to shrink its bloated public sector.

Firing workers is an acutely sensitive issue in Greece, where unemployment has climbed to nearly 28 percent and poverty levels have soared after six years of recession.

High school teachers have repeatedly walked off the job to protest against the government's plans. The conservative-led coalition invoked emergency powers in May to prevent a strike that would have disrupted university entrance exams.

Officials from the EU/IMF/ECB "troika" of lenders will meet Greek finance minister Hyannis Stournaras on Sunday to assess progress made on promised reforms, the finance ministry said.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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