Greek teachers to continue strike against layoffs

September 21, 2013

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek teachers will stay off the job on Monday and Tuesday, continuing a strike launched this week to protest against the public sector layoffs and forced job transfers demanded by international lenders, their union 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 labor unions, which fear firings will further hurt austerity-hit families.

A total of 25,000 workers must be placed in the scheme by year-end under the terms of Greece's 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.

The high school teachers' union OLME, which launched rolling strikes on September 16, said the action would continue through Tuesday, and it would convene again on Wednesday, September 25, to decide on further labor action.

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.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Kevin Liffey)