State of injustice

I could see them walking along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, a central Athens thoroughfare. They looked angry and tired, but also quite militant. They were nurses and doctors employed at state hospitals and still in their work clothes. I was thinking that none of the politicians who belong to Greece?s main political parties would have anything convincing to tell these people.

These people are not the big-name doctors who have grown used to receiving under-the-table payments or bonuses from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their medicines rather than cheaper alternatives. These people never accepted bribes from the drug firms that leeched off the state coffers for so many years. They have read dozens of reports about corruption but are yet to see anybody ending up behind bars for it.

It is extremely unfair that people such as these, who have worked hard all their lives, are now being forced to take a drastic reduction in their salaries. I am not just talking about doctors and nurses, but also police officers, military men and other responsible employees who serve in crucial positions around the country. It?s extremely unfair that a military officer doing his service on a faraway island has to see his salary plummet while some of his more privileged colleagues are fighting to perpetuate their outrageous perks.

Since the early days of the crisis, the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou has opted for the easy option of imposing across-the-board cuts or its labor reserve scheme which would affect specific categories of employees.

If the government does not change its tune, the state apparatus will fall apart. It will lose staff that would have a lot to offer simply because they happen to be near the retirement age.

The riot squad officer guarding the Parliament will one day drop his shield and walk away because he is no longer able to stand the pressure of poverty and endless tension.

Great though the panic created by the pressure coming from the country?s international creditors may be, Papandreou and his administration must do everything they can to find ways to protect the heart of the state apparatus, and take action against idleness and waste.

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