26 September 2023

EUROPEAN UNION: EU leaders face bureaucratic malaise

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European Public Service leaders, meeting in Dublin, say the problems Ireland is suffering with recruitment and poor morale in State bodies is being repeated across the continent and is created by individual Governments’ efforts to reduce costs.

The comments came from the leadership of the European Federation of Public Services Employees (EUROFEDOP), which represents workers in the security, military and health services.

Secretary General of the EUROFEDOP, Bert Van Caelenberg said the issue of retention and staffing levels had caused protests in other EU countries and arose out of the aftermath of the pandemic.

“During the Coronavirus time, everyone said that we need the Public Service, but now they are saying the crisis is over and they have returned to calls for privatisation of public services and reducing costs,” Mr Van Caelenberg (pictured) said.

“It is the same across all countries in Europe, where they have said the State needs the Public Service but it costs too much money and that is the problem with the conditions and the pay.”

He said he feared Government decisions were being made now that were going to cause problems ahead when the sector faced its next crisis.

Head of the Austrian Public Service Union, Norbert Schnedl said the issue of retention had been caused by decisions by Government, but also by the inability of States to compete with more attractive prospects in the private sector.

“These problems exist in the whole of Europe — in Austria we have problems to find new colleagues because of salary, for example,” Mr Schnedl said.

“There is a need to increase salaries and to improve working conditions in the State organisations so they can compete with the private sector,” he said.

“There needs to be hard work to find solutions with the different Governments in all countries in Europe.”

The theme of the conference was around building resilience for Public Service employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dublin, 20 February 2023

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