OPINION

Cutbacks in the dark

The ease with which Greece is portrayed by European councils and the international press as wasteful and indifferent to public debt is an injustice to the hardworking majority of Greeks. This misconception arises from the failure of successive governments to get to grips with the country’s problems and rectify the injustices suffered by its citizens. All international observers see are the debt and a reluctance to introduce the necessary reforms – and they conclude that Greeks are unwilling to pay the price of their excessive borrowing. Yet while the state squanders huge amounts of money, only a tiny sum finds its way to the workers who provide services and manufacture products. Take the case of the ailing health sector. Hospitals are crumbling under the weight of debt and the workers are least at fault. Many doctors are paid for less overtime than they’ve put in or are paid with great delays. How can money be kept from people who worked for it? It comes down to administrative and political chaos, and the «deals» that propagate it. Years ago the government and doctors’ representatives agreed that instead of raising wages, they would supplement doctors’ incomes with overtime – real and fictitious. This led to a situation in which some doctors worked hard and others didn’t. The result was that many got the short end of the stick and the entire sector was accused of getting paid for less work than they actually did. In reality, the state and doctors agreed to a fraud that benefited no one. And while «fictional» overtime is a thing of the past, doctors’ salaries remain a problem. So, when cutbacks are demanded, who can really say what is being spent and where? What will be cut when the state simply snips away in the dark? The Greek economy can only stand on its feet when public administration is put in order, when the state knows how many people it employs, what everyone does and how much they are paid. Only then will there be justice in the labor sector.