We are very pleased for your presence here, since our Union consider that ILO and SLIC will contribute a lot to the evaluation - reconstruction process of SEPE, something that we have demanded since January 2012.
We would like to inform you that our Union consists of more than two hundred highly skilled and qualified experts in the field of Occupational Safety and Health, the majority of whom have staffed SEPE through examination-evaluation process conducted by the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP).
Labour Ministry OSH inspectors a) carry out inspections in all the fields of economic activity and workplaces in order to monitor the implementation of legal acts regulating OSH, the working conditions and the working practices b) investigate labour accidents c) investigate complaints, incidents related to work conditions/equipment etc d) provide information, consultation and advice to employers, employees, unions etc.
The following issues include the key points of interest of our Union, regarding the restructuring and evaluation of SEPE.
- Existing coordinating system amongst the regional inspectorates (KEPEK).
Due to the lack of effective and efficient planning, monitoring, sharing and exchange of information, there is a need to move towards an integrated common IT system and internet access amongst all the regional inspectorates and the SEPE Headquarters, in order to achieve a more intense cooperation, coordination and collaboration in all levels.
- Undeclared work
OSH Inspectors are called not only to ensure decent working conditions, but also to contribute to the fight against undeclared work. The wide range of tasks within their mandate and the economic crisis increase their workload. Moreover, as it is also pointed out by the ILO report Labour inspection in Europe: undeclared work, migration, trafficking (January 2010, International Labour Organization, Geneva, 2010), “this situation may represent an ethical dilemma for labour inspectors, since they are supposed to protect workers and on the same time they need to inform the authorities involved”.
In order for the OSH inspectors to fulfil their demanding tasks, a proper training, good planning and management and both, financial and human resources are required. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that OSH inspectors should mainly focus on checking working conditions and monitoring the implementation of OSH regulations and should not be expected to act exclusively as a form of undeclared work control.
- Annual inspection planning
An annual work plan is drafted by the Directorate for Planning and Coordination of Technical and Sanitary Inspection of the SEPE Headquarters. However, there is a gap in the exchanging information between central and regional level, which means that a swift and adequate exchange and flow of information can not be reached. Therefore information and data derived by inspections are not taken into account during the planning process. Hence, the annual planning fairly corresponds to the actual needs of each region.
- Data manipulation and Statistical analysis
Data concerning inspection of workplaces, employers, labour accidents, safety technicians, occupational physicians, bulletins of control/indictments/inspection reports etc. are kept in every kepek. Statistical data concerning inspection of workplaces, fines, prosecutions and labour accidents are transmitted to the headquarters of SEPE for processing. The lack of an IT system on national level and intranet links results to the inability of inspectors to access, share and use these data. Due to the lack of administrative staff and technical support, OSH Inspectors need to devote a considerable percentage of their working time to secretarial activities, administrative files and statistics processing.
- Fiscal and legal fines due to the inspections
The existing Greek OSH legislation provides an array of legal tools to OSH Inspectors in order to assist enforcement: a) cessation of work (applied in case of imminent or very serious risk), b) administrative fine (applied in cases that an improvement notice has been ignored) and c) prosecution (resorted to where serious OSH regulations are observed).
Since there are not any legal advisors at the kepeks, the inspectors (usually engineers and health specialists) have to deal with and examine complicated legal proceedings, although they have not appropriate legal training or education and this duty is irrelevant to their field of expertise.
OSH Inspectors have to prepare all the legal documents and are responsible for monitoring the whole legal process. Due to the recent disengagement of the legal department of SEPE, as far as the legal representation of SEPE is concerned during the administrative court proceedings, inspectors are also assigned to fill this gap, thus their workload has significantly increased.
- Co-operation between SEPE and Legal Authorities
All juridical decisions concerning administrative fines are notified to SEPE, so that the inspectors be able to complete the necessary procedures by informing the relevant tax office in order to collect the fine. However, information on the outcome of the Court cases concerning prosecutions is rarely notified to SEPE (except from the cases that an inspector appears before court), leading to a considerable lack of necessary feedback.
Taking into account the fact that the period between lawsuit submission and the trial varies between 4 to 5 years, both SEPE and the Ministry need formal and permanent agreements with the Public Prosecution Office on the way inspectors may collaborate or push forward the court cases initiated by them.
- Human Resources Management and Economic Planning
Due to the recent shortages in the general economic planning, there has been a decreasing proportion of budgeting assigned to SEPE. Therefore both quality and quantity of the inspector workload are affected in a large scale. The current implementation of the unified national payroll for the public sector -regardless the different tasks and responsibilities involved- has resulted in an up to 60% decrease of the Inspectors’ income. For example, travel expenses-allowances for the inspectors have been cut -despite the obligations of the ILO Convention No 81. In the same time, there has been a considerable reduction in the budget for SEPE vehicles (fuel, maintenance, replacement), resulting in a considerable decrease in the number of inspections.
As far as the Human Resources Management is concerned, there have been reductions both in terms of inspectors and administrative staff.
- Recruitment procedures of SEPE
The majority of the OSH Inspectors have staffed SEPE through examination – evaluation process conducted by the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP). All new employees that is planned to be hired as inspectors, should be evaluated through the ASEP processes. Moreover they should be highly trained, well motivated and fully committed to their new task.
- Duties and responsibilities of the OSH inspectors
The latest legislation, such as Act No 3996/11 and No 4052/12, did not bring drastic changes to the essence of the Health & Safety Inspection. Moreover the above mentioned Acts did not simplify bureaucratic procedures, and in some cases they even created more duties in the field of administrative activities (such as more complex fine procedures or statistics) while in other cases they involve OSH inspectors in other fields of interest (e.g the implementation of the recent National Anti-Smoking Policy).
- Campaigns and strategies
Specific campaigns and strategies for targeted inspections in workplaces are implemented, e.g. in accordance to the European annual strategies etc. However these specific strategies could be part of a broader and well-established planning, which could include more detailed and specific guidelines for these inspections, in accordance to local needs and economic activities.
Looking forward to a more substantial collaboration in October, when we hope will be able to supply you with more detailed information concerning our views and positions.
President of the Board General Secretary
Chatzinikolaidis Kleanthis Aravantinos Gerasimos