Ending jobs for life in the public sector

Many commentators have noted that the aspect of the forthcoming constitutional revision that will «steal the show» is the provision foreseeing an end to jobs for life in the public sector. In reality, though, such a move would neither violate existing terms nor impose new ones. Also, it is not the most important of the proposals for a constitutional review. Indeed, many are far more concerned with the proposal for the foundation of a Constitutional Court, as they fear this would seriously distort the application of the rule of law in its existing form. Others see this recommendation as an attempt to bypass the country’s main administrative court, the Council of State – at least in cases relating to the protection of the environment where the latter court has proved to be an exceptional annoyance to the government. The proposal for ending permanency for public sector workers may not be the most significant, but it nonetheless directly affects a large proportion of citizens and carries a heavy political cost. How many employees in the public sector are working on the promise of permanency? No one is really sure. The number of staff at the «core» of the public service – chiefly those working in government offices – is estimated at around 500,000. If we also count those who are employed in the «broader» public sector (whose limits are hazy, to say the least) then this figure increases to almost a million – a significant electoral force. Hence the ambiguity of the government’s decision to end these workers’ permanency, a complete about-turn from its pre-electoral pledge to offer permanency to civil servants. But what is really meant by «permanency»? Let us not forget that permanency for civil servants was originally initiated to safeguard the workers from losing their jobs when a new government would come to power and subsequently try to appoint «its own people» to public sector posts. But the measure backfired; although existing employees kept their jobs, new governments also added their own people, resulting in the overstaffed and inefficient civil service that is currently in existence.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.