By Angelos Anastasiou
CIVIL SERVANTS have been told they should stick to their work and refrain from lounging about in front of public offices or in car parks to cook their traditional end-of-year skewered meat on large barbeque stands and drinking booze to the dismay of passers by.
In a memo issued by the Department of Public Administration and Personnel to all heads of public services and circulated internally, the government has issued a stern warning to ensure that organising celebrations during working hours is avoided throughout the holiday season, and that service to the public is not disrupted under any circumstances during this period.
Traditionally, the majority of public service personnel have treated New Year’s eve effectively as a semi-holiday, showing up for work as usual but preferring to use most of their time engaging in celebrations that involve cooking, eating and drinking rather than carrying out their designated duties.
Weather permitting, December 31 may include ‘souvla’ (a local brand of barbecued meat) or other local dishes, while alcohol consumption may also be included in the festivities.
The memo, dated December 3, appears to aim towards protecting the image of the public sector, which has been tarnished in recent years by such practices, by ensuring that service to the public is not hindered in any way during the holiday season.
To this end, the memo states that “under no circumstances must any opportunity for unfavourable comments against public employees and the public service in general be allowed”, and that this matter “requires extraordinary attention”.