Dimitris Rapidis

The Greek public sector has been on the center of the cyclone now that austerity politics are aimed to sweep over the remnants of a gigantic and non-prolific bureaucracy. But the way of doing so -i.e. to mind the gap between the width of the public service, the wages, and the efficiency rate- has ended up in a badly-shaped reform program that brings growing numbers of unemployment or poorly employed people in a vanishing labour market.

The Union of Workers in NGOs (i.e. non-governmental organizations) has been in the center of attention lately for two major reasons: the first is that a considerable number of them is recruited in a volontary basis being exploited by their employers, and without any credential concerning the insurance and the related payment benefits. The second is that from the people working in NGOs a big part of them is rolled onto public sector services in order to fulfill the gap left by all those destined to be released after the demands of troika for massive layoffs.

The latter issue is regarded to be the major point of discontent and resentment by the side of the NGOs’ employees that are temporarily(?) transferred to public sector agencies in order to fulfill the layoff gaps by being additionally subjected to a 5% wage cut, and under uncertain rules regarding the time schedule. In addition to that, these 60,000 people are deprived from their labour rights, meaning the right on strike as well as the compensation for leave clause, which is fundamental since the labour rights have been established in the 20th century.

What is more, this so-called “flexible employment status” is of paramount importance for the well-function of the public sector, namely for tens of municipalities and hospitals, but despite these indispensable services provided, these people are treated with the most depreciating manner causing their growing feeling of insecurity and exploitation.

This “rented” labour trend is largely expected to be the new model of employment in Greece in the midst of austerity politics. If this is considered as a progress in the field of labour, then labour studies should re-consider what was achieved all these decades after slavery was abolished. Is it finally a “step back to the future”?

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