Go-slow action is taking its toll

A large portion of Greek civil servants have dug in their heels and appear extremely reluctant to carry out any of the tasks assigned to them. There are staff who treat even simple requests with indifference. Some say their attitude is justified as they have seen their wages go down and their reputation systematically tarnished.

Whatever their motives, these people are doing a bad service to the country as well as to themselves. A license that is not issued or that is held back can mean fewer jobs. In fact, one of those jobs could one day be claimed by their own child.

Similarly, a ruling that puts the brakes on an investment, however small, effectively reduces the chances of economic growth. With their tough-guy posturing and their purported “revenge on the system,” such people are ultimately shooting themselves in the foot.

Of course there are exceptions: You will see them among the ranks of young employees who perform their day-to-day duties with professionalism and passion. That said, a mention should also go to the old hands who sometimes sustain entire departments.

Finally, there are the young police officers and doctors who work hard – as always – in spite of the precipitous wage cuts and adverse working conditions.

Many people were skeptical that in the wake of the recent wave of cuts, we would see men in uniforms smoking away their days with a frappe in hand. That never happened. The Cassandras were fortunately wrong, this time.

However, it is time the authorities did something with the go-slow protest evident in many parts of the civil service. Disciplinary action has become inevitable in some cases, but even such measures will not be enough to remedy the situation given the extent of the problem.

In a normal country, one would hope that the opposition would step in and demand an end to the public servants’ go-slow protest. After all, the situation is only making things worse for the next administration.

In a country swept by austerity and anger, one hopes that the state apparatus will manage to hold its own. Thankfully, a small minority is still taking its work seriously.