Greece's coalition government partners still differ on the final content of the fresh austerity package requested by international creditors before they release new vital bailout loans to Athens to stave off a chaotic default.
Negotiations on a deal are to continue, it was announced after one more meeting between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the two other party leaders supporting his coalition government on Tuesday in Athens.
The conservative leader who heads the coalition after June's general elections pressed his partners to finalize the 13.5 billion euro package for 2013-2014 by Thursday, arguing that time is pressing, according to local media reports.
Greece's cash reserves are expected to dry out on November 16. Athens needs to have the package sealed and ratified by the Greek parliament before a crucial Euro Group meeting on November 12 to secure a 31.5 billion euro installment in time to avoid a default which could have severe repercussions on the global financial system.
However, following almost four months of deliberations within the government and with auditors of European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF) lenders, there are still issues pending, socialist PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos noted, in his statements to the press after the latest meeting.
"We need to present to the Greek assembly and Greek peoples a comprehensive deal...The agreement should convince markets and society that it will ensure the exit from the debt crisis,"Venizelos said.
He suggested that issues, such as the sustainability of the Greek sovereign debt, should be addressed now, not later.
In his statements to media, Fotis Kouvelis, the leader of Democratic Left (DIMAR), the smaller party in the coalition government, confirmed talks with representatives of EU/IMF creditors have hit a snag in regards to the proposed reforms in labor relations.
"DIMAR will not accept and will not vote in favor of the measures troika demands on labor rights. Ourfirm position is that they will not contribute to the fiscal adjustment and competitiveness. If we implemented them, we would witness further increase in unemployment and recession," he said.
According to media reports, on top of new cuts on salaries, pensions and tax hikes, EU/IMF auditors press for harsh policies, such as the easier dismissals of employees on less severance payments, to ensure the success of program launched in 2010 to address the crisis in exchange of international funding under bailout deals.
Greek interlocutors within the coalition government, opposition parties and trade unions argue that such measures could be counterproductive. They would put more burden on Greek society which already suffers from record high unemployment rates of more than 25 percent and deep recession, they say.
Political commentators in Athens stressed on Tuesday that Samaras and his partners have limited time to strike a balance and pass the package to secure the needed disbursement, calculating the potential political and social costs.
Over the past 24 hours, Samaras expelled from his party's parliamentary group a deputy who said he will vote against the set of spending cuts, while another MP announced his decision to leave DIMAR's parliamentary group and sit independent from now on. The coalition now holds a 176-seat majority in the 300-member strong body.
Out in the streets of Athens, protesters, ranging from the disabled to students chanting against cuts on health and education, reiterated in the meantime, their determination to continue anti-austerity mobilizations.
During rallies on Tuesday, demonstrators argued that there is always time for a different solution to the crisis, which would not be that tough on poor people. (1 euro= 1.3 U.S. dollars)