Giv­ing in to nurses’ de­mands is fu­tile

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Some 1,500 nurses plan to go on strike, again, this time de­mand­ing that their qual­i­fi­ca­tions be up­graded to univer­sity level recog­ni­tion in or­der to be el­i­gi­ble for pro­mo­tions be­yond the cur­rent scale of A5-A7, as per the civil ser­vants’ code. Any­thing be­yond that in the en­tire state sec­tor re­quires some aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tion of at least grad­u­ate level, while in the education sec­tor there is a clear cut dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of du­ties for hold­ers of Bachelors, Masters and Doc­toral de­grees.

Iron­i­cally, the pow­er­ful civil ser­vants’ union PASYDY has called the strike by the PASYNO group as “un­timely”, es­pe­cially as health­care re­form is al­ready un­der­way, paving the way for a full or par­tial in­tro­duc­tion of the Na­tional Health Scheme (GESY), pos­si­bly by 2017.

The nurses are de­mand­ing that their upgrade be se­cured prior to any re­struc­ture and au­ton­omy of state hospi­tals to in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tions, for fear of reper­cus­sions and po­ten­tial lay­offs if pro­duc­tiv­ity mea­sures kick in.

This would mean a cap on pro­mo­tions and putting an end to an un­pro­duc­tive sys­tem of self-eval­u­a­tion and pay rises, ul­ti­mately lead­ing to un­re­al­is­tic pen­sions.

But it is not just that. Unions in all the pub­lic sec­tor have re­alised that the path to a gen­eral eco­nomic re­form also in­cludes in­tro­duc­ing ef­fi­ciency tools, stream­lin­ing work­flow and im­prov­ing ser­vices, in this case, pa­tient care.

Many of the unionised (and of­ten un­qual­i­fied) work­ers in state hospi­tals or wider govern­ment ma­chine, the state-owned telco Cyta and the elec­tric­ity pro­ducer EAC, have se­cured their jobs through back-door meth­ods, of­ten de­mand­ing favours and lev­er­age from their party MPs, with to­tal dis­re­gard for pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els and, in ef­fect, value for money, in the case of a re­turn on in­vest­ment for the tax­pay­ers.

In all cases, de­spite the rhetoric of “de­fend­ing na­tional wealth” and other pa­tri­otic calls, th­ese de­mands are noth­ing more than a way to se­cure present pub­lic sec­tor work­ers a smooth re­main­der of their ca­reer (as they can­not be sacked, by law) right up to pen­sion­able age, to which, too, they dis­agree in rais­ing.

This govern­ment is al­ready more than half­way through its ad­min­is­tra­tion, has fallen be­hind in core re­forms, but has suc­ceeded in sail­ing through a stormy three years, hav­ing in­her­ited an eco­nomic disas­ter from its com­mu­nist pre­de­ces­sor.

With health­care re­form, the in­tro­duc­tion of GESY and the au­ton­omy of hospi­tals re­main­ing at the top of his agenda, Health Min­is­ter Ge­or­gos Pam­borides had bet­ter not give in to union and party pres­sure, even it comes from the rul­ing Demo­cratic Rally.

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