Greek wage cuts ruled unconstitutional

Greek wage cuts ruled unconstitutional

Athens (AFP) - Greece's top administrative court has ruled that wage cuts for police, the military and firefighters adopted in 2012 as part of austerity measures required under the country's international bailout are unconstitutional, a court source said Monday.

The Council of State agreed with unions representing the different uniformed services that argued against the 300 million euros in cuts to the salaries in the 2013-2016 fiscal programme.

The measures cut the salary of an army lieutenant general to 1,479 euros ($2,005) per month from 1,753 euros.

The decision is not expected to be made public for several weeks.

The court's reasoning is not known, nor its financial impact, and it comes amid growing tension between the government and the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank over the country's financing needs.

"The Greek government certainly respects the decisions of the Council of State" but must first receive and evaluate the decision, spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Vima radio station.

The Council of State, which has been asked to consider many austerity measures, has approved some while rejected others, including cutting the wages of judges and pushing some state workers into partial unemployment.

It has still to rule on a number of cases, including on reducing the minimum monthly salary to 580 euros, as well as cuts to the wages and pensions of other categories of state employees.

"Whatever the number of decisions, we are not going to invent cash," said Health Minister Antonis Georgiadis on Antenna radio.

In Portugal, the Constitutional Court has ruled against a number of austerity measures, forcing the government to scramble to find other measures to keep within its bailout plan.

Greece was first bailed out by the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank for 110 billion euros in 2010.

When that effort failed to stabilise the country's finances, veering Greece dangerously close to exiting the eurozone, the country got a second rescue in 2012, plus a private sector debt write-off.

According to the 2012 plan, the IMF's funding for the Greek government should continue through 2016, while the EU-ECB support should end this year.