Civil sector job-fiddling exposed

Six municipalities will be referred to the prosecutor after the civil service recruitment watchdog, in its annual report released yesterday, revealed that rules for hiring staff had been bent or broken persistently. The Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) found that over 40,000 people were given jobs in the public sector over the past year, 26,344 of which were seasonal positions. The report claims that the system of hiring candidates for these jobs had been frequently abused. Hirings by local government departments have often served as an uncontrolled way for political parties to dish out favors. One popular technique, according to the report, is the frequent hiring of contract workers in the public sector as a back-door means of finding them permanent employment. ASEP suggests that some full-time positions are kept vacant on purpose so that they can eventually be filled by an employee who has initially been taken on part-time. This means that the whole process of advertising the job under strict guidelines and forcing candidates to sit exams, run by ASEP, is circumvented. This method was found to be particularly popular with municipalities, universities and research centers. The report noted that 54 percent of employees picked up on temporary contracts by municipalities are classified as cleaners or gardeners. The ASEP president, Giorgos Veis, expressed surprise that, based on these figures, Greece did not have cleaner roads and squares. In July, the government put a bill to Parliament proposing that all civil service positions be filled by employees that had sat exams conducted by ASEP. The report claims that as things stand, the organization is helpless in dealing with the problem it has uncovered because it lacks jurisdiction. The report was also critical of the way some jobs are advertised, suggesting that in some cases, the authority was only going through the motions rather than genuinely seeking a candidate. Three municipalities from Crete are being referred to the prosecutor based on the reports findings, along with Vyronas and Aghia Paraskevi in Athens and Lavreotiki in southern Attica.