Are 4,351 civil ser­vants any­thing to fret about?

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

The In­spec­tors-Con­trollers Body for Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion (SEEDD) re­ported this week that there are 4,351 dis­ci­plinary cases pend­ing against pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in Kathimerini on Thursday, dis­ci­plinary coun­cils have still not been formed in many of the state’s agen­cies and where they do ex­ist, they hold very few ses­sions. As a re­sult, em­ploy­ees who are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for a range of of­fenses con­tinue to work as usual in the civil ser­vice. Dis­ci­pline in the state sec­tor was put on the back burner when Gior­gos Ka­trouga­los was ap­pointed la­bor min­is­ter and rein­tro­duced a mea­sure that al­lowed union­ists to sit on dis­ci­plinary coun­cils. Sure, this may ap­pears as a mi­nus­cule prob­lem com­pared to all the oth­ers the coun­try is fac­ing. Are 4,351 civil ser­vants any­thing to get hot un­der the col­lar about? But the truth is that this mi­nus­cule prob­lem rep­re­sents one of the rea­sons why the coun­try is stuck in the mire and why the gov­ern­ment re­fuses to con­trib­ute to its re­form. If you ex­plore the is­sue a bit more, it is cer­tain that ev­ery­one will be able to give a rea­son or an in­ter­pre­ta­tion that is con­vinc­ing to a greater or lesser de­gree. What mat­ters though, is the el­e­ment of de­nial, the un­will­ing­ness to do what so clearly has to be done, rather than a so­lu­tion to stop the mes­sage go­ing out to so­ci­ety that wrong­do­ers are go­ing un­pun­ished and that mes­sage grow­ing and find­ing hun­dreds of fans. It does in­deed take a lot of brav­ery and ma­tu­rity to stop your­self from adopt­ing in your own life all the neg­a­tive ex­am­ples around us – to pay taxes in­stead of evad­ing them, to do your job (in the civil ser­vice) con­sci­en­tiously and not ac­cord­ing to whim, to obey the law de­spite the be­lief that cov­er­ing up law­less­ness is part of the gov­ern­ment’s lan­guage and prac­tice. The im­mu­nity be­ing en­dowed on civil ser­vants un­der sus­pi­cion, whether by de­sign or in­dif­fer­ence, is by no means an iso­lated event. It is but a link in the chain of im­mu­nity en­joyed by many who sup­port the SYRIZA-In­de­pen­dent Greeks coali­tion or have an affin­ity with the gov­ern­ment’s ide­olo­gies. Even if one of these links were to break (if, for ex­am­ple, those 4,351 cases went ahead), the gov­ern­ment risks a domino ef­fect – it could be look­ing at the prospect of the eval­u­a­tion of civil ser­vants, of a sep­a­ra­tion be­tween those who are com­pe­tent and those who are not – that would would threaten the es­tab­lished sys­tem of priv­i­leges and im­punity cre­ated by the two gov­ern­ment part­ners. In the Nev­er­land that is Greece, the im­mu­nity of civil ser­vants is one of the most bla­tant ex­am­ples of de­cay.

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