NEWS

KEPs facing acute staff shortages

Almost half of the country?s Citizens? Advice Bureaus (KEPs) are facing serious staff shortages as short-term employee contracts are due to begin expiring within the next few months, according to reports Monday.

Representatives of KEP employees warned Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Dinos Rovlias in a meeting on Monday that 460 of the 1,080 KEPs operating in the country will be unable to operate at full capacity and may even be forced to close down unless short-term contracts are renewed or staff are hired on a permanent basis.

KEPs, which are located all over Greece, often in areas that lack basic state services, are instrumental in solving many of the disputes between citizens and the state that arise from the country?s overly complicated bureaucracy, as well as offering day-to-day help for the issuance of state documents and other services.

Rovlias stressed that the government has no intention of allowing KEPs to close down, adding that ?the government has plans to upgrade them within the confines of the current economic conditions.?

The civil service is looking at across-the-board staff shortages within the coming months as short-term contracts expire in other sectors as well.

?The ministry has come up against a harsh reality with contracts ending one after the other and operational needs mounting,? Rovlias said following his meeting with the KEP employees? representatives.

One of the solutions being put forward by the government to maintain and even improve service at state services is extending the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours.

The government, which is in the process of reducing the size of the public sector as part of sweeping reforms and will only be hiring one person for every 10 that leave the service, has said that the effect of extending civil servants? hours will have the same effect as hiring 45,000 new employees.