back to article Greece ends extra hols for civil servants forced to use hated computers

In a sign of just how hard the austere financial climate is hitting, it has been reported that the Greek government has been forced to put an end to one of its civil servants' most treasured privileges. We speak, of course, of the Hellenic Sir Humphreys' entitlement to an extra six days a year paid holiday if they are compelled …

COMMENTS

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  1. MrDamage

    Oh, the irony

    They'll end up striking again, and of course, they'll use twatter and farcebook to arrange the strike action.

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Oh, the irony

      That's what the social hateworks are for.

    2. LarsG

      Re: Oh, the irony

      The. Greeks are still complaining, even after their debts have been paid off by someone else?

      Though I do have a little sympathy, they do have to bow down to their new Masters, the Germans, I shudder to think that could have been us if Gordon Brown had stayed around.

      1. Armando 123

        Re: Oh, the irony

        "The. Greeks are still complaining, even after their debts have been paid off by someone else?"

        Well of course they are. Until they have to pay for it THEMSELVES, they won't understand what the real issue is.

        I see the same thing in the US with California (which is approaching Greece's state thanks to similar governmental policies) and places like Detroit (ditto).

        They'll expect all us (relatively) fiscally responsible places to bail them out, and I don't see why. You made your choices, live with them. Or is asking these cretins to behave like adults too much to ask?

        1. breakfast

          Re: Oh, the irony

          Is it governmental policies that cause problems in California? I had got the impression they had a problem with too much democracy, where everyone can vote for everything and the outcome is an unplanned hotchpotch of policies with no facility for serious budgeting, but I would be interested to learn more.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            Re: Oh, the irony

            To be fair, California still contributes a lot more to the federal kitty than it gets back in federal spending. So actually, the Golden State continues to subsidize social programs and pork barrel spending in the rest of the U.S.

          2. Armando 123

            Re: Oh, the irony

            California has one of the highest tax rates on businesses in the US. The "too much democracy" argument is one that I often here from friends in California who work in the public schools, etc, ie in the government system.

            If anything, that has exposed the problem in California. The government sector has grown quicker than the private sector, by a large margin. (Recently I saw a report on this for various US states, I think at The Cato Institute site, and it was pretty interesting.) Some of the citiies in California have already had to be bailed out, and the state isn't going to be that far behind.

            1. Rattus Rattus

              Re: Oh, the irony

              I would not trust a single word written by the Cato Institute.

          3. Chris 155

            Re: Oh, the irony

            That's about the size of it. Essentially, when California takes a policy to referendum, which they do a lot, they put the policy and the mechanism to pay for it on the ballot separately. The result should surprise absolutely no one.

        2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: Oh, the irony

          Actually California's budget and economy aren't doing too badly just now.

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Bankrupt - No wonder

    Did anyone actually work or pay taxes on that damned island ?

    I listened to a radio article last night that explained the only reason that the Germans are accepting to bail out the greeks is due to the fact that a lot of the German population have their savings invested down there.

    How ironic.

    1. James Loughner
      Headmaster

      Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

      Since when is Greece an island??? Did it finally break off of Europe??

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

        I used the term Island in a more esoteric form, as in the are cut off, at least finacially, from the rest of Europe.

        They appear to behave , think , cheat and steal as though they were com,peltely independant from the rest of Europe. They have obligations, like all the rest of Europe but instead they chose to lie about economy and we as a European nation have to bail them out.

        For every extra day that one of the Greeks are lying in the sun, having a computer day off, you get the right to pay more taxes, the reaper has to be paid at some point in time.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

          As well as corruption, there is also inefficiency on a mind-boggling level.

          1. Armando 123

            Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

            Actually, as someone who has lived in DC and Chicago, I don't find that level of corruption mind-boggling at all. In fact, they sound like pikers.

        2. Tom_

          Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

          I think you thought Greece was literally an island.

    2. LarsG

      Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

      Greek Islands and Greek mainland.....

      They no longer exist, it's now the. German Islands and German mainland of Greece.

      Long Live Merkel.... Our New Leader.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

        They no longer exist, it's now the. German Islands and German mainland of Greece.

        Long Live Merkel.... Our New Leader.

        Having just come back from a holiday on Rhodes, I can say that it, at least, is now a Russian island. Busloads of them everywhere, many of the shopkeepers and bar/restaurant staff speak Russian, and there are shops selling furs all over the place.

        I first encountered loads of Russian tourists in Cyprus about 10 years ago. They're obviously spreading westward. I don't know how far through Greece they travel, but it occurred to me that the Greek economy would probably be in an even worse state if it wasn't for the Russians, who presumably weren't so affected by the recession.

        It also occurred to me that the Russians probably have far more infuence over parts of Europe now, through financial clout, than they ever did in the bad old days of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain.

      2. Michael Dunn
        Joke

        Re: Bankrupt - No wonder @LarsG

        A joke going the rounds here (in Crete) has Angela Merkel arriving at Athens Airport and being checked by an immigration officer who does not recohnise her; the conversation goes like this:

        Name? Angela Merkel.

        Nationality? German.

        Occupation? No, I am just here for the conference.

    3. Robinson

      Re: Bankrupt - No wonder

      I don't think Greece is an island. It's mainland, but counts quite a few islands as part of its territory (a bit like the UK).

  3. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Hmmm. OK around here I get 1 day a year extra vacation for working with the bloody things. But that's that(and no not in public sector. But one day EVERY 2 months... just insane.

  4. Christian Berger Silver badge

    In other news

    Greece is also shutting down 2 universities:

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/09/23/university-of-athens-ntua-suspend-operations/

  5. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Turning up for work

    Apparently they have already lost a bonus they used to receive for turning up to work

    Most companies in most parts of the world offer a bonus for actually turning up for work, the common name for this bonus is called "PAY". I though a lot of Greece's problems was that in the past many employees were able to claim the bonus, AKA PAY, without bothering to turn up for work.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Turning up for work

      " Apparently they have already lost a bonus they used to receive for turning up to work

      Most companies in most parts of the world offer a bonus for actually turning up for work, the common name for this bonus is called "PAY". I though a lot of Greece's problems was that in the past many employees were able to claim the bonus, AKA PAY, without bothering to turn up for work."

      Hey, it works for bankers and look at how productive it makes them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Turning up for work

        Look, I know banker bashing is all the rage right now, but at least do it sensibly.

        If there's one thing the average bank worker does, it's work far, far harder than workers from most industries.

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: Turning up for work

          Okay, I should have prefixed that with the same number of casino bankers who seem to need to be compenstated rather than paid.

        2. Armando 123

          Re: Turning up for work

          "If there's one thing the average bank worker does, it's work far, far harder than workers from most industries."

          I wouldn't say it's harder per se -- I used to work on farms and as a lumberjack, so I am aware of what hard work is -- but the jobs in banking do require a lot of work, brain power, knowledge, and integrity. Finding that combination isn't simple and there is a demand in many industries for it, so it's not surprising that people in banking make good money.

          1. FartingHippo
            Devil

            Re: Turning up for work

            "but the jobs in banking do require a lot of work, brain power, knowledge, and integrity"

            And you were doing so well...

    2. poopypants

      Re: Turning up for work

      In Australia people get normal pay plus a 17.5% bonus while they are on leave. It is called a Leave Loading.

      1. slaterm61

        Re: Turning up for work

        That isn't actually a legal requirement for a company to pay leave loading, some larger companies and government departments do, but its not required.

  6. d3rrial
    Pint

    Productive as a German

    I as a German feel humbled to read this, while procrastinating on El Reg at work!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Productive as a German

      I'm procrastinating at work too, but at least I have the sense to anonymize myself!

  7. codeusirae

    The austere financial climate?

    This austere financial climate is totally bogus, is a financial instrument thought up by the banking sector where states "borrow" from the banks, only they first give three times that amount up front to the self same financial institutions. The states invent these funds by printing money and, this is the funny bit, lending the money up-front to the banks, which lend it back to them -- it's described as quantitative easing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    crooks

    My major gripe about the Greek financial problem is that for years their civil servants and politicians cooked the books, lied about the real state of the finances. Effectively they collaborated to steal billions from the other EU taxpayers. As far as I know nobody has been sent to jail for this crime. If I would steal a few thousand euros from somebody I would end up in jail. The Greeks who are responsible for this end up receiving billions more.

    1. thomas k.

      Re: crooks

      Geez, I wonder if they learned this by observing our Western financial institutions, who take our money and 'invest' it in things which always seem to go tits up, so that the money 'disappears', and then our governments bail them out using our tax dollars.

      Money is like energy, however, it doesn't disappear - it has to go somewhere, probably into those private off-shore bank account holding umpteen trillions of dollars the Grauniad uncovered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: crooks

        You are conflating actual money with the agreed market price of an asset. It's an incredibly common mistake and leads to people making conspiracies up to try to explain where "money has gone".

        If you invest in buying a house, and the housing market collapses, you will have "lost some money", only you haven't, you gave the money away to someone in exchange for an asset of variable monetary value (all assets have variable monetary value, so what I mean here is one of relatively high price volatility). The money hasn't "disappeared", you gave it to someone when you invested, and your investment hasn't made the returns you expected.

      2. wikkity

        Re: our Western financial institutions

        So Greece is not a western country then? learning loads today, only just found out it's an island too today.

        1. The First Dave
          Headmaster

          Re: our Western financial institutions

          @Wikkity:

          If you check an atlas, you will see that Germany, Greece, and even half of France are to the East of the prime meridian.

          1. poopypants

            @The First Dave (Re: our Western financial institutions)

            Everywhere not actually on the North or South Pole is to the west, if you travel far enough.

          2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: our Western financial institutions

            @The First Dave:

            I don't think the prime meridian is the dividing line when people talk about Eastern and Western countries. Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk are east of the meridian, but I don't expect much Oriental mystery in Lowestoft. My house is 1'53'' east of the line, but the people in the next village aren't noticeably more thrifty and hard-working.

          3. wikkity

            Re: our Western financial institutions

            Always thought Western culture originated from the greeks and romans, assumed that meant greece was going to be covered.

          4. Stratman

            Re: our Western financial institutions

            "If you check an atlas, you will see that Germany, Greece, and even half of France are to the East of the prime meridian."

            I believe the references to 'East' and 'West' come from the Cold War days, where the dividing line was the Iron Cyutain.

            1. Stratman

              Re: our Western financial institutions

              I believe the references to 'East' and 'West' come from the Cold War days, where the dividing line was the Iron Cyutain.

              Or even Curtain

      3. Captain DaFt

        Re: crooks

        "Money is like energy, however, it doesn't disappear"

        Um actually, it does, because most of it doesn't actually exist!

        To simplify it to a ludicrous level, Two dollars, two people, one business, loaning money at one third interest.

        Person A lends both Dollars to B. Now there's actually FOUR dollars and 67 cents present, the original two, plus the two B now owes A, that is in 'circulation' and 67 cents interest. Then B loans the money to A, and back and forth it goes.

        As long as B and A keep loaning money to each other, there's more and more money in circulation, more and more interest accruing, Bang! Next thing you know, A and B are Millionaires!

        They can keep this up forever, as long as both stay in debt, only repaying the loans with money in circulation, unless... something happens and one of them defaults.

        Then suddenly the money in circulation suddenly 'collapses', the millions are gone, and all that can be salvaged is... two dollars.

        All the money that was 'created by commerce' has vanished like... it never actually was. Odd that...

  9. Tromos

    The perks couldn't have been scrapped much earlier.

    At the time these perks were introduced it kind of made sense. Think back to an era where DOS ruled the roost and the 5.25" floppy disk was the only mass storage. There was a skills shortage and a need to reward those who had mastered the command line (in a foreign language) and the arcane arts of Word Perfect, Lotus 1-2-3, etc. Windows (especially in Greek) and the Internet were some years away yet from being generally available, even in the universities. I believe it was Windows 95 that first had Microsoft support for Greek with truetype fonts and all, even then using a computer was a rare skill and Internet usage even rarer. It was only in the run up to the 2004 Olympics that OTE (the state Telco) was shamed into providing a limited broadband service (mainly 384kbps as the heady heights of 1Mbps cost a fortune), with most businesses still being on 128kbps ISDN.

    Of course the extra holidays should have been scrapped years ago, but who was going to face down the militant unions during the years money was being frittered away left, right and into politician's pockets? It has taken this crisis to enable these measures to be taken as the civil servant union protests will get very little sympathy from the private sector workers struggling to feed a family or the even less fortunate multitude seeking employment.

    1. Ted Treen

      Re: The perks couldn't have been scrapped much earlier.

      "...who was going to face down the militant unions during the years money was being frittered away left, right and into politician's pockets? It has taken this crisis to enable these measures to be taken as the civil servant union protests will get very little sympathy from the private sector workers struggling to feed a family or the even less fortunate multitude seeking employment..."

      Excellently put.

      Now could several thousand of us email the above extract to McCluskey & Le Marinel

  10. Harry the Bastard
    Pirate

    surely a better resolution would've been to give the rest of us 6 days extra hols

    this would've increased overall global happiness and slightly improved relative greek competitiveness, trebles all round

    instead they've just deepened the hellenic zone of despondency thereby reducing overall global happiness

    1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

      "instead they've just deepened the hellenic zone of despondency thereby reducing overall global happiness"

      But they haven't. You see, happiness actually IS a lot like energy....

      The happiness that they used to have those 6 days per year? That's just been transferred to the rest of Europe in smaller slices, because every time I see some unionised moron with zero understanding of basic economics getting shafted, I crack a nice big smile.

      Every state, especially Britain, should be looking at the largely unjustifiable perks & pay levels of the public sector, which unions demand with menaces from those of us in the productive sectors of the economy.

      1. Rogue Jedi

        the largely unjustifiable perks & pay levels of the public sector

        I am a public sector worker, the only IT support for a School in Suffolk containing 1,000 users and about 600 computers on a windows2008r2 domain all managed by me, my "Network Manager" is a maths teacher who is highly compitant with using Windows but had minimal admin skills.

        For this I earn £10,750 a year (37 hours a week, 39 weeks a year) when I recently asked for a pay rise pointing out I was doing a job that would pay 20,000+ a year in the public sector the school just gave me a £300 a year pay rise (mainly because would have been under minimum wage when it rises in October)

        Does anyone think this is an unjustified level of pay?

        Unsurprisingly I am looking for alternate work.

      2. Harry the Bastard

        that small slice is schadenfreude, not happiness

  11. David Cantrell

    Instead of tinkering around the edges like this, how about they just collect some fucking taxes instead?

    1. Martin Budden
      Coat

      I know there are taxes on lots of activities, but I don't think that one should be taxed.

  12. Tim Worstal

    What's truly lovely about it

    Is why the extra days off were granted.

    Way back when screen users were advised to have a 15 minute break every two hours. Rest your eye sort of stuff.

    The Greeks looked at this and changed it to an extra day off every two months. Not really solving the problem of eye strain really.

  13. Vociferous

    Greece shows the downside of populism.

    There are two main parties in Greece, each run by a political dynasty, and they've spent the last 30 years taking turns buying votes with unfinanced reforms (such as the one in this article), and to mislead the EU on the true state of their finances. For at least the last 3-4 election cycles they were completely aware that the Greek economy was heading for a crash, but persisted in vote buying, apparently on the hope that their rival would be in power when the economy crashed and/or the EU would rescue them.

    No one has been held responsible for this. Because both leading parties are guilty, and the same people who caused the crash are still in power, they have no interest in prosecuting the guilty, and they and all their loyal critters and media instead blame Germany and the EU.

    This is the reason Greece has had a much harder time repairing its finances than Italy, Spain or Ireland. Sadly it seems most Greeks believe their politicians BS.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent Idea

    I think the extra days off for computer workers is an excellent idea.

    Having suffered from "mouse arm" I think the days off would end up more than paying for themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent Idea

      Hmm... you suffered from "mouse arm" from computer over-use. Why don't you just admit it and say you wanked too much?

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