Civil service changes imminent

Tomorrow, the State’s Legal Council is to decide whether to grant permanent tenure to people working under contract in the public sector, by means of temporary decrees. The move would affect some 2,000 casual staff working in municipalities, hospitals, social security and roadworks funds. The council is expected to approve the motion as it did in a similar case affecting contract workers in the social security fund for the self-employed (TEBE). In a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis obtained approval for a series of legislative amendments affecting the way civil servants are hired, evaluated and promoted. The changes also affect civil servants’ source-of-income declarations and the controversial issue of permanent tenure. In view of a new law that incorporates European Union Directive 1999/70 governing temporary work, a government decision is expected with regard to 12,000 people working in the civil service under contract, including 5,000 doctors in the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and 7,000 municipal and civil service employees that are given contracts separated by four-month breaks with no employment. Skandalidis said that in recruiting new staff, priority would be given to staff with specialized training and skills. High school graduates hired over the next three years would be subjected to the strictest of criteria. Guard duties, garbage collection and transport are to be contracted out to the private sector. Qualifications for a good job in the civil service will include an excellent knowledge of foreign languages and computer literacy. Priority will be given to staff for development programs included in the Third Community Support Framework. Civil servants up for promotion will be subjected to continuous assessment, both by self-evaluation and reports from their supervisors. They will be judged according to their ability to achieve goals, their skills and their behavior. As he left the prime minister’s office, Skandalidis said they had discussed «proposals to strike at the partisan mentality, lack of meritocracy and corruption.» Up front, however, Rehhagel will be relying on a patchwork of strikers, namely AEK’s lethal striker Demis Nikolaidis, whom the German coach persuaded to rejoin the national team after the player had abandoned it, Angelos Charisteas, who signed from Aris to German club Werder Bremen, Panathinaikos’s Nikos Lymberopoulos, and Ajax Amsterdam’s Nikos Machlas.

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