Public sector job cuts were at the centre of Greece's bailout review Sunday as international auditors assessed the country's progress in implementing reforms before unlocking another loan to help it out of its debt crisis.
Representatives from the so-called troika of Greece's creditors -- the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- held a two-hour meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras in Athens as part of regular efforts to review the steps Greece has taken to meet its bailout obligations.
Thorny issues that Athens still needs to address include reducing the number of jobs in the public sector, speed up privatisation plans and recapitalise four of its main banks.
A ministerial source said the talks took place "in a good atmosphere" and had centred on the job cuts although they also encompassed progress on the 2013 budget, structural reforms, tax evasion and bank recapitalisation.
Under the bailout conditions adopted last year, Greece needs to cut public sector workers by 25,000 in 2013 and a total of 150,000 by the end of 2015.
The issue will again be on the table on Monday when Administrative Reforms Minister Antonis Manitakis meets with Klaus Masuch of the ECB, Mark Flanagan of the IMF and Matthias Mors of the European Commission.
In an interview published in the Sunday newspaper To Vima, Stournaras said there would be "no lay-offs."
"Over the past year and a half, the public sector has been reduced by 75,000 people," he was quoted as saying.
The paper said thousands of people have retired in recent years and that the measures that will be implemented in 2013 will leave the sector with gaping holes.
Last year, around 2,000 workers were placed in so-called labour reserve pools -- meaning they do not work and their salaries are cut by 40 percent until they are made redundant -- and another 1,000 employees, who had violated civil servant rules, will be dismissed in 2013, it said.
The ministerial source said the officials representing the troika "recognised the effort" the Greek government is making and stressed the necessity of slowing its soaring unemployment which in November reached a new record high of 27 percent.
The audit interviews will take about a week, ending with a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Facing a sixth year of continuous recession, the heavily-indebted country has been relying on international rescue packages to avoid bankruptcy and get its economy back on track.
Since 2010, the EU and the IMF have committed 240 billion euros ($312 billion) overall in rescue loans to Greece.
The next payment to Greece, of 2.8 billion euros, is due at the end of March.