ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek deputy minister resigned on Thursday in an early sign of resistance to tough austerity and reform measures which party leaders accepted as the price of a new international bailout.
Deputy Labour Minister Yannis Koutsoukos, a member of the socialist PASOK party and former trade union leader, said he was quitting because the measures were “painful for working people,” and accused Greece’s foreign lenders of blackmail.
He released his resignation letter to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos after the premier announced that leaders of the three parties in his coalition had signed up to conditions demanded by the European Union and IMF.
Parliament must approve the agreement in a vote expected to be held on Sunday or Monday.
“Our lenders ignored the arguments and concrete proposals made by the Labour Ministry and in a blackmailing way are crushing the edifice of labour relations,” Koutsoukos wrote.
Koutsoukos was president from 1993 to 2000 of ADEDY, an umbrella union organization for public sector workers which has staged a series of strikes against austerity measures since Greece first took an international financial rescue in 2010.
ADEDY and its private sector counterpart GSEE will hold a 48-hour strike on Friday and Saturday against the latest measures, which include a 20 percent cut in the minimum wage. Together the two unions represent about 2 million members, or roughly half the country’s workforce.
The semi-official Athens News Agency reported that another PASOK lawmaker, Odysseas Boudouris, had said he would not vote for measures that cut the minimum wage in parliament.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; writing by David Stamp; Editing by Paul Taylor