OPINION

Final settlement

The pre-electoral promise to give permanent posts to short-term contract workers, all short-term contract workers, has raised expectations that in many cases are unjustifiable, or even irrational. Anybody with some kind of work contract with the civil service and the state sector as a whole now considers himself or herself as a contract worker who will be given a post – even if no permanent one exists. This attitude has deep roots in a society where the notion has been cultivated, over decades, that the state is the great job provider, the patron and protector, able to offer a limitless supply of work positions without particular demands or responsibilities. A large part of society is now unacquainted with productive activity as professional occupations, the arts and even the sciences, and is oriented toward a relationship of irresponsible dependency on the state and the public purse. This tendency was strengthened and exploited by the policies of patronage practiced by the parties, especially PASOK, both due to its more general views on the relationship between, and function of, state and society, and to its lengthy stay at the helm of government. After each election, PASOK rewarded its supporters with state sector jobs, even though on a temporary work contract (and in violation of recent constitutional restrictions). This helped ensure a permanent bias in its favor among the electorate. In this shape and form, contract workers performed their duties in a kind of political captivity that only in the last few elections were they able to break free of. The final accommodation would not have been able to satisfy all aspirations. Nor should it. But it constitutes the settlement of a serious issue that has been held over from the past and for which the government of today is not responsible. The settlement involves tens of thousands of short-term contract workers, and the burden on the budget will be a heavy one. Also onerous will be the burden on state and part-public services, which are obliged to employ the surplus labor on terms of equality and meritocracy. Naturally enough, there will be reactions from those who have not been included in the settlement. However, it is necessary to make clear that the settlement is both final and complete, whatever the pressure that will surely be exerted. But above all, it is necessary to take all measures that would prevent a repeat of the phenomenon, as was the case in the past.