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Our View: Getting big salaries for doing the minimum is a public employee’s ‘conquest’

Doctor

Hospital workers will meet on Tuesday to decide what action to take in protest against Okypy plans to carry out staff evaluations. The public employees’ union Pasydy, with which the hospital unions Pasyno (nurses) and Pasyki (doctors) are affiliated, had asked Okypy to withdraw the circular notifying staff about the evaluations, but it was ignored and has decided to bring up the possibility of strike action in the middle of the pandemic.

Pasydy has come up with the stock response resorted to by public sector unions when they do not want to discuss an issue. Okypy, the organisation that runs the state hospitals, had unilaterally imposed its position on the issue of staff evaluations, while refusing dialogue for resolving a ‘host of serious and vital issues that have been pending and adversely affect work conditions in the health sector,’ said Pasydy.

This is the exact same ploy used successfully by teaching unions for the last 10 years to prevent the ministry’s planned introduction of an evaluation system for teachers. There are always far more important issues to be discussed to waste time on a triviality such as the evaluation of the performance of teachers, such as air-conditioning in classrooms, fencing of schools, fewer teaching hours etc. And the same applies in the case of the civil service, with Pasydy successfully obstructing the introduction of an evaluation system for the last 20 years. The last government attempt was defeated, a few years ago, by the votes of the opposition parties in the House.

Compare this with the private sector, in which it is unheard of for a company’s employees to object to a formal appraisal of their performance. It is the prerogative of the employer, regardless of how powerful the workers’ unions can be. Then again in a private business, the employer is entitled to sack a consistently underperforming worker, in stark contrast to the public sector in which the only cause for termination of employment are major disciplinary offences such as theft and violence. A public employee can do next to nothing workwise, but not only is his job safe, he will also get a pay rise every year.

It is these ‘conquests’ that the entitled workers of the state hospitals want to defend by fighting against an evaluation system. They can carry on taking months of sick leave, as so many of them had done at the outbreak of the pandemic last year, or doing very little work, without their promotion prospects and pay rises being affected. Getting paid big salaries for doing the bare minimum is a public employee’s conquest.

Will Okypy stand up to the hospital workers on this matter or will it be told by the government that shuns confrontation with public sector unions to back down as always happens? It will probably end up discussing the serious and vital issues dictated by Pasydy, because it will receive no backing from cowardly politicians that want to be on good terms with the union – there are parliamentary elections in a couple of months.

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