Tension in Government Over Public Employee Evaluation

Tension has arisen between Greek government cabinet members on the issue of the evaluation of 6,500 public employees that must be completed by the end of 2014.

Minister of Administrative Reform, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been given the ‘green light’ by the Minister of State, Dimitris Stamatis to proceed with the evaluation, although some New Democracy ministers seem rather unwilling to cooperate. Mitsotakis hit out at fellow cabinet members and at PASOK in particular for questioning the evaluation of public employees and the plans to lay off another 6,500 by the end of the year.

Speaking to Skai TV, Mitsotakis said the government cannot risk going back on commitments it has made to its lenders. “History teaches us that every time we have tried to renegotiate agreed targets we fell flat on our faces,” he said, adding a reference to the emergency property tax Greece had to introduce in 2011, when current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos was finance minister.

This barbed comment is an indication of the growing ill-feeling between government partners New Democracy and PASOK over the issue of public sector reform and prompted sources from the socialist party to accuse Mitsotakis of “trying to cover up his own mistakes.”

PASOK has voiced opposition to Mitsotakis’ plans for the public employees evaluation scheme to result in 15 percent of bureaucrats working in each department being deemed as failing. This would lead to placing them in a labor pool and transfer them to other departments. Some could eventually lose their jobs.

“The evaluation should go on, but with the methods used in the past,” said PASOK spokesman Dimitris Karydis. The socialists argue that Mitsotakis’ system will lead to departments or services which are already short-staffed to lose more employees.

The minister, however, has the backing of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for his task. Samaras is keen for the government to meet its pledges to the troika of lenders, who are due back in Athens in September, so he can begin discussions on debt relief and tax cuts.

“The government is one entity and each minister has to leave behind the paradise of their own ministry and see the bigger picture,” Mitsotakis told Skai TV. “The implementation of the law is not voluntary. We have to realize that the evaluation will proceed and that it has been approved by Parliament.”