On another planet

on . Posted in English texts

Contrary to what Evangelos Venizelos, the government’s socialist coalition partner, says, the labor reserve plan did not even get a chance to fail. Rather, much like the law on university reform, it was never even put into force.

The labor reserve scheme was, in fact, no more than an early retirement program. Instead of carefully weighing its financial obligations and shutting down unnecessary organizations, officials chose to purge the public sector of staff in a horizontal manner.

The labor reserve plan, first introduced in 2011, did not make much sense -- common sense, that is. Rather, it was designed to serve political ends. Instead of overhauling the state apparatus, politicians chose to protect employees. Instead of getting rid of useless departments, they sought to cut jobs. But cuts were not made in accordance with people’s experience or qualities, but with their date of birth. So the political system once more showed how counterproductive it is. Instead of designing a workable state, it tries to reproduce the one that already exists.

In the private sector, when a department is counterproductive it is closed down and the personnel is made redundant. That explains why transport companies no longer need people to guide horse-driven carts. Politicians treat state workers as a sacred cow.

They look after them even if it means they have to spend the money of the private sector unemployed who have to make do with a scant benefit for a very limited period. But to sustain the sacred cow, you need to sustain the organizations that employ them.

So, we keep reading reports that justice of the peace courts, which hardly issue one ruling a year will be abolished; that the Thessaloniki Trade Fair will merge with Helexpo; that municipal enterprises that were closed down because of the Kallikratis administrative reform plan are now reopened albeit under different names; that the number of Greece’s tertiary education institutions will be reduced when 14 of the 28 technical colleges that were abolished last year are set to repoen.

No one wants to make any cuts. Everyone has a good (social, economic, even cultural) excuse to keep the state intact.

Even the labor reserve scheme (that is the right of state employees to do nothing and still get paid) is considered a non-starter by our politicians. They are oblivious to the fact that private sector employees do not have such luxuries when they try to rebuild their life. In the eyes of our politicians, the private sector sits on another planet. I guess it’s because they can’t do what they want there.

ekathimerini.com, Thursday August 9, 2012