Good move, we should do this here

Imagine the howls of outrage from Labour and other assorted socialists if the government moved to shut down TVNZ and Red Radio. You would hear the screaming from Auckland.

In Greece they have done just that. And saved a truck load of cash.

Under pressure from its creditors to cut public employment, the Greek government said Tuesday that it was closing down its state-run television and radio broadcaster, idling 2,900 people ? less than 1 percent of the public work force ? and outraging the country?s powerful labor unions.

Describing the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, known as ERT, as a ?haven of waste,? a government spokesman said ERT, which went off the air at 11 p.m. local time, would reopen soon as a ?modern state organization? with a fraction of the current staff.?

ERT employees, who were among the 3,000 people gathered outside the broadcaster?s headquarters north of Athens on Tuesday night, vowed to stage a sit-in until the government rescinded the order, while members of Greece?s fragile governing coalition said that they, too, would resist the move.

Analysts said the decision to shut down the broadcaster, which does not require lawmakers? approval, was a measure of both the government?s desperation and its determination to find a way to cut public jobs.

The move came just days after?one of Greece?s lenders, the International Monetary Fund ? while acknowledging ?serious errors? in the austerity policies it has imposed on the country ? chastised the government as having failed to take ?politically difficult measures? to shrink the public sector since it received its first bailout in 2010.

Athens promised its creditors this week to dismiss 4,000 civil servants this year, including 2,000 by the end of the summer and 15,000 by the end of 2014.

That may not sound daunting in a public work force of around 650,000. Yet, through more than three years of drastic budget cuts and a rapidly shrinking economy, the debt-ridden country has yet to fire a single government employee.

A combination of stroppy unions and?socialist?mentality?has sunk Greece.

To understand what the government is up against, consider the case of Georgia Tsiounis and more than 10,000 other ?temporary? workers. Eight years after landing a four-month contract with the municipality of Athens to water flowers and trim trees while other workers were on vacation, she was told recently that her services would be eliminated after her latest contract ends.

Rather than meekly accepting her fate, she turned to the well-worn tactic of filing a restraining order seeking to make the job permanent.

While she may well lose in court, legal analysts say, she cannot be fired while the case is pending. Given the glacial pace of Greece?s overburdened and inefficient court system, her case and thousands more like it will not be heard for nearly two years.

?I am suing to keep food on the table,? Mrs. Tsiounis said recently. ?If I am let go amid high unemployment, where will I find work??

Outrageous entitlement mentality.

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