I started writing this this morning, a ‘not much going on today so I’ll do a bit of blogroll’ post. You know, I woke up, it was cold, the news featured a volcano, nobody really ahead in the polls and not much else. What a difference 8 hours makes… the perfunctory mention of today’s planned protest in Greece (deja-vu all over again, again!) did not really prepare me for the bloody great riot, three dead story on the 6 O’Clock news when I got in.

In some ways I sympathise with the Greeks. No, really. Them people who are going off their tits in the town centre burning shit down aren’t the ones who spent all the money. Ok, well they are, but not directly. Have a read of this:

“On Planet Greece, some civil servants get a bonus for turning up to work on time. Foresters get a bonus for working outdoors. At least they show up.

There are civil servants called ghost workers because they never go into the office, head to a second job and still claim a state salary. They can’t get sacked, because a civil service post is for life. Unless the incumbent decides to retire in his or her forties, with a pension.

And the government can continue paying for the afterlife. Unmarried and divorced daughters of civil servants are entitled to collect their dead parents pensions. Another lucrative sinecure is to belong to a state committee. The government has no idea how many there are. It has been estimated that they have 10,000 employees and cost nearly £200m a year, and that includes the committee to manage a lake that dried up 80 years ago.”
(Reported by Malcolm Brabant, BBC News Athens)

The Greek government has been handing all this cash out willy-nilly for years (at least 80 if we assume the dried-up lake was wet when the committee was formed) so can you blame the Greek civil servants for taking it? A Greek Forester’s ‘outdoors allowance’ is, I would expect, just viewed as part of the basic renumeration, however it shows up on the payslip. If a Greek civil servant can’t get fired, that’s not hisdecision. If he commits some terrible error and they can’t sack him, what’s he gonna do, resign? Well, maybe, depends on the employee. But maybe not… after all, he’s in a job for life and even I would say he’d be mad to give it up. And there will always be chancers like the ‘ghost workers.’ Give em an inch, and they’ll take a mile. Or a kilometer. Like the fairground in Pinocchio, all those little boys (and girls) thought they’d be able to have fun forever. Now that they’ve started to turn into donkeys you can hardly blame them for braying.

The Greek government had a responsibility to Greece. This isn’t a ‘well, the government should sort it all out’ statement. The Greek government is employed by the Greek people to provide certain services, and sub-contracts those services to civil servants (who happen to be Greek citizens) and the Greek government had a responsibility to be careful with it’s customer’s cash.
The problem as I see it is that as a government AND an employer AND a contractor providing services the Greek government is sitting in too many places. If your company goes bust and you lose your job, well tough. Shouldda picked a better-run company. Fancy a riot? Who against? They’ve gone bust. The company’s not THERE anymore. It’s just tough, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.
If your contractor runs it’s company shoddily, pays for a bunch of people that do nothing, fails to provide you with the service you requested and then goes bankrupt owning you (and a LOT of other people) a load of money: tough! Again. You rely on the government to enforce receivership laws, and you wait your turn to get something back.
But what happens when you’re employed by the government, you’re contracting out to the government to provide you with services and the government itself goes bust? Except, because they’re the government they don’t go bust and disappear, they just carry on operating, make you redundant AND charge you more for the services they’re still not providing you adequately with (and admit are going to get even worse)?

Well, something like we’re seeing now in Athens, I expect.

Oh, and I’ve added The Filthy Engineer as he’s commented on my blog a few times and it seems only polite, and The Quizzical Observer (who also gets the Hat/Tip for the Greece quote above).


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