No control over public firm wages

The government’s efforts to slash public spending are being undermined by the lack of control that it appears to have over bonus payments and overtime paid to employees of some public companies, especially in the transport sector. Last year, the debts of public companies, known as DEKO, totaled 13.1 billion euros in 2009, which was up from 5.6 billion euros in 2004. However, despite the austerity measures aimed at reducing the cost of the public sector to Greek taxpayers, it seems that some state-run firms have remained resistant to these attempts. Civil servants’ pay and bonuses have been cut by more than 20 percent this year but a senior official at the state’s General Accounting Office told Sunday’s Kathimerini that he has no way of knowing whether the cuts to public sector workers’ salaries have simply been replaced by more overtime pay or special supplementary pay packages. A recent internal report at the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) indicated the scale of the problem. «During the course of the inspection of the company’s accounts, it was not possible to ascertain via computerized records which employees receive supplementary pay as part of their collective contracts or following decisions by the management,» the report said. «However, the investigation revealed a large number of supplementary pay packages: 49 categories, some of which subdivide into further extra pay deals.» It is estimated that ISAP paid 6 million euros in supplementary pay last year. Some of the packages are connected to agreements that were made many years ago and in circumstances that were totally different to the current ones. Night watchmen for instance, receive extra pay to cover the cost of their food, while technical staff at ISAP receive a pay boost equivalent to 4 percent of their salary that is known as the «hand-washing package.» In one case, an ISAP employee with a basic monthly wage of about 3,900 euros was found to have boosted his salary to 8,675 euros thanks to a range of supplementary pay deals, meaning he took home more than 5,100 euros after tax.

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