From the major and increasingly frequent wildfires to the pandemic and the need to protect our borders, the Greek state is having to respond to one crisis after another. And what becomes apparent again and again is the importance of its most vital core services. Without them, Greece would not be able to stand on its feet. Firefighters, medical workers and border guards are the ones fighting the big battles and we, as a society, have a duty to protect them and to ensure that they can do their jobs in the best possible conditions.
None of them is an independent unit: They need training, professional leadership and the right means and equipment. They cannot be expected to act with a sense of selflessness when they know their supervisor was promoted because of political affiliations rather than abilities. It’s a story we’ve heard time and again. There are also cases of vital services being run by groups that have dug themselves in, regardless of who is in power. This is why favors and compromises cannot be tolerated when it comes to key posts at hospitals, the security services or the armed forces. Our politicians seem to have learned their lesson, though there are elements that still have the old-school mentality.
Greece also seems to have lost sight of the notion of prioritization due to a period of policy that sought to make everyone equal and we have forgotten that a desk jockey whiling away the days to retirement does not deserve to be paid the same salary as a fighter pilot or an intensive care nurse. The people working in core state services must be paid more than everyone else in the public sector – it’s as simple as that.
We must show our respect for all the men and women who risk their lives so that we can be safe. But we must also become much more vocal champions of their just demands. It’s all well and good to sing their praises and give them a round of applause after a particularly tough battle. But it would be even better to give them a proper reward, in actual money, like the one ICU workers were promised a year-and-a-half ago and they have yet to see.