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Our View: Union objections shouldn’t derail meritocracy

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The civil servants’ union Pasydy, has received many complaints by members regarding the evaluation of their job performance. The new evaluation system was introduced this year, replacing the old and discredited system, which gave almost all civil servants top marks for job performance, therefore preventing any meritocracy to be applied as it bunched good and bad workers together.

This was a system that suited the union as all its members were treated as equals and promotions had to be based on seniority rather than any meritocratic criteria over which the union had no control. It also suited the political parties as it ensured the dependency of civil servants on them – party backing would ensure a civil servant was promoted, as job performance had been made irrelevant by the top marks given to all of them.

Now that civil servants are being evaluated with a degree of accuracy, they cannot accept it and are complaining. Pasydy boss, Stratis Mattheou, told Phileleftheros that the workers had not been evaluated objectively and based on their performance, but with the aim of dispelling the impressions created by the old system. Many complaints would be submitted to the ‘objections committees’ which were set up at every ministry to adjudicate on evaluations disputes; the committees have to complete their work by the end of March, which might be difficult considering the number of objections.

Mattheou said he had proposed a trial implementation of the system for a year so that everyone could become better acquainted with it. This would have been acceptable if Pasydy could be trusted to play a positive role, but the reality is that the union had opposed the introduction of a proper evaluation system for years and could use the trial run to further delay its introduction. What it should be doing now is identify the weaknesses of the new system and propose changes that would make it better next year. For example, does the system stipulate that a manager should set measurable targets for subordinates that would determine the evaluation? Perhaps some evaluation criteria might need to be modified.

This can be done gradually. What is important is that a new system has been introduced and the government should stick with it regardless of its imperfections, because it is infinitely better than the previous one which was the main reason for the poor service, inefficiency and low productivity. It was a system that demotivated good workers, as they would receive the same evaluation mark as lazy and disinterested colleagues, discouraged initiative and creativity because they went unrewarded, thus ensuring low productivity. Why would a hard-working, motivated civil servant bother doing his best, when an indolent colleague would get promoted ahead of him, because the latter had top marks in this evaluation?

There should be no turning back now that the new evaluation system has finally been introduced and the government should ignore Pasydy’s objections. Any new system will have glitches, but these can be fixed over time.

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Source: Cyprus News Agency