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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-07-09

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Opinion poll ban 15 days before elections
  • [02] Measures to restrict hiring of OGA-insured seasonal staff

  • [01] Opinion poll ban 15 days before elections

    The government on Thursday announced plans for a return to the previous regime regarding opinion polls, with a ban on the publication of their results in the last 15 days before an election. Emerging from a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said an amendment to that effect will be tabled in Parliament in the very near future.

    "The recent experience of the European Parliament elections showed that the measure allowing opinion polls to be published up until two days before elections did not achieve its aim or the expected results. It is better, for reasons of quality of democracy and of pre-election campaigns, to return to the regime that existed before," the minister said.

    Pavlopoulos also briefed the prime minister on the progress regarding the issue of waste management around the capital, including the violent reactions from the local community in Grammatikos, where the government has planned to site one of two new landfills.

    He said that regional planning, following decisions by the Council of State, had cleared the way for the planned landfills in Grammatikos and Keratea and that in the future there would be waste-processing solutions rather than simply depositing rubbish, as the original plan envisioned.

    The minister said the reactions, which led to arrests, violent scenes and even acts of arson, were inexcusable and that regional planning would be enforced.

    "The government does not intend to expose the country to the risk of fines because some people are not prepared to understand that there is equality in bearing public burdens," he stressed.

    The prime minister was also briefed on the progress of preparations for the "Theseus 2" programme for local government, saying that the first programme had brought about significant improvements in issues like bureaucracy and combatting corruption.

    Government spokesman on opinion poll amendment

    The decision to table an amendment that will reinstate the previous regime for opinion polls was also announced by government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday, who noted that the changes introduced by the government had not had the desired effect.

    "Recent experience, as this was recorded during the elections to elect our representatives to the European Parliament, by common admission, did not meet the target that had been set, which was that citizens have more complete and up-to-date information from opinion polls. And this because the many opinion polls showed widely divergent results and constant reversals in a very short space of time from one another. The result was to create confusion, instead of providing the sought-after better information of citizens. And this cannot, of course, be allowed to happen in a well-regulated State as our own," he said.

    The spokesman said that the relevant amendment would soon be tabled by Pavlopoulos. He also denied that the timing of the amendment, so soon after the European Parliament elections, was in any way related to plans to hold early general elections.

    Antonaros pointed out that the measure had essentially been announced by himself on the same night as the European Parliament elections were held, during a political chat show, while similar concerns had been voiced by other parties and was thus not taking anyone by surprise.

    "Consequently, we consider and have no difficulty admitting that this measure, which we passed ourselves, has proved ineffective and that the previous regime better served the interests of democracy and the citizens," he added.

    [02] Measures to restrict hiring of OGA-insured seasonal staff

    The government on Thursday said it was preparing legislation that will again restrict the amount of time that employers can hire someone insured by the OGA farmers' insurance fund as a seasonal employee to four months, instead of the current six months.

    Deputy Employment Minister George Kontogiannis, replying to a question tabled by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in Parliament, said that the measure sought to counteract the preference shown by employers to those insured by OGA relative to other prospective employees because they did not have to be insured with the more expensive IKA social insurance fund.

    He said the measure would also be backed by others, such as restricting the number of staff a firm can take on as seasonal employees, reducing this from 30 to 15.

    Kontogiannis said the government measures intended to help OGA insured get additional work to boost their income while at the same time protect their interests.

    KKE had criticised the government for increasing the amount of time that people insured by OGA might be hired as seasonal workers, saying it led to a loss of 40 million euros in contributions to indebted IKA and condemned hard-working OGA employees to tiny pensions, denied them the right to unemployment benefit and sick-leave and several other benefits for those insured by IKA.

    "The result was that businesses hired only OGA insured that pay their own contributions, so that the specific employees did not have pay a single euro," a KKE MP said.


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