OPINION

On strikes, the price of transport and the smoking ban

Why are we tolerating public employees disrupting Greece with strikes?

A major ongoing problem in Greece is the government allowing public sector employee unions to literally hold the country hostage if they cannot get their own way. Last summer’s trucking strike is a good example of this along with the assorted strikes by various civil servants, public transport and so on and so forth these days.

In my opinion, strikes by any union that have a direct and immediate impact on the populace should be deemed illegal, the striking workers immediately terminated with a forfeiture of all accrued benefits, pensions and formal licensing, permits etc. Working in the public sector is a privilege and comes with great responsibility to the people they serve. When they fail in this responsibility, they do not deserve to continue in their capacity as a civil servant.

The Greek government could take a lesson from former US President Ronald Regan circa 1982 during a nationwide strike of the Air-Traffic Controllers Union. About 12,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike, crippling domestic air travel. President Regan’s response was to fire all 12,000 workers and replace them. With one signature he literally changed the future of public sector union activity for all time in the United States.

Like Greece, prior to President Regan’s action, there were an average of 300 strikes per year by public employees in various unions. After firing the air-traffic controllers, this average immediately dropped to 30 strikes per year, 10 percent of what it was. The message was loud and clear: Fail in your reponsibilities to the public and you will be looking for a new job.

US businesses have adopted an employment-at-will model, which focuses on individual performance. This system works incredibly well for those willing to work hard and get the job done and employees that continue to outperform their peers are rewarded, while those whose performance is mediocre or lackluster tend not to benefit at all. This model has proven to significantly increase productivity, reduce expenditures and eliminates the deadweight, i.e. those employees who cost more than they produce.

The Greek government is never going to resolve our economic problems unless they take a tough stance on unions, nepotism and waste throughout the government. They need to trim the fat, and become a lean, mean, governing machine!

Michalis Kotzakolios

Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis

Just when I thought I had heard everything, the minister of injustice — Haris Kastanidis — now implies it’s OK not to pay tolls, and higher transportation fares and fees. He is just what the country of Greece doesn’t need right now — more confusion and misdirection from of all places — the minister of justice. All this time I thought Pangalos was the mispokeman for the government — this guy is so much better. I’m speechless. Next we’ll hear him say it’s OK for Greece not to pay back their loans all in the interest of social justice. While I do agree this is a terrible time to raise tolls and fares as it additionally taxes the poor guy going to work, the answer is lower the tolls and lower the fares — disobedience should never be condoned — unless, of course, you are the minister of justice.

JAMES MACEDONAS

Kavala

The comment about «pensioners» not being able to pay doesn’t fit. Most pensioners, like myself, are riding for «half price» already. So my 1-euro ticket, which used to be 1.50 euro, is really 50 cents. So it will increase to 60 or 70 cents for pensioners. If the strikers were really worring about pensioners, they wouldn’t be striking at all, because most pensioners rely on public transportation to get around!

LES GROVE

GLYFADA

Smoking ban

David, you don’t have to worry, it will be nothing like Queensland. Most people in Greece are smokers and smoking is perceived as normal as breathing. In fact, Greece is the world’s No 1 when it comes to smoking. They also tend to think they have the right to smoke wherever they please, even if they’re standing right next to a «No smoking» sign. You can see people smoke in the most unexpected places. I’ve been served in banks, shops and even pharmacies by the smoking staff. One thing is sure, the smoking ban will never be implemented in Greece. There have been four attempts in the last decade and all of them failed. Nobody checks if the ban is being respected, nobody cares and people still smoke as much as they want.

CURIOUS TRAVELER