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Open letter from UGÖD to Minister Johannes Rauch on the critical staffing situation in the Ministry of Health

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A recent report by the Austrian Court of Audit on pandemic management shows, among other things, the urgent need for personnel in the department.

Vienna (OTS) – Dear Federal Minister Johannes Rauch,

The UGöD in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs may draw your attention to an extremely critical staffing situation in the department as follows:

Insufficient staffing to combat the
pandemic

The current ACA report on the pandemic management of the health authorities in the first year of the COVID-19 crisis shows, among other things, significant staffing deficiencies in the department as follows:

“The federal government had not ensured the organizational structures and staffing requirements necessary in the event of a pandemic. A June 2019 risk report rated staffing in public health departments as high risk in the event of a human disease outbreak” ([link)] (https://is.gd/h25Bur) , page 8).

The current staffing situation is not sufficient for a
sustainable crisis management

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the social consequences of the climate crisis, increasing mental stress situations and disease patterns, the current energy crisis, enormously rising rents and cost of living with stagnating real incomes, the ongoing nursing crisis, are just a few areas where the colleagues of the department are significantly challenged and do great things under an enormously strained staffing situation. However, the above-mentioned crises will not be overcome so quickly; sustainable staffing solutions are also needed.

In connection with other crisis situations, the ACA points out the following in its recommendations:

“For efficient performance of tasks also in future crisis situations, sustainable personnel management (personnel recruitment, development and retention) should be implemented”, page 87 of the current ACA report.

Federal Minister Johannes Rauch, ensure in good time that sufficient and sustainable personnel are available for the currently extensive crisis-related tasks in the department!

An end to the staff-cutting dogma in the civil service
is urgently needed

While the Court of Audit has already identified a glaring shortage of staff in the department, the staff-cutting dogma that has been practiced in the civil service for more than two decades is still largely being adhered to despite numerous crises and challenges. Thus, on the current homepage of the Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Public Service and Sports, the personnel savings in the public service that have been taking place for years and corresponding management tools are “cheered” as follows ([link)] (https://is.gd/LfJfFI):

“The federal government’s staffing levels have been significantly reduced in recent years. Since 1999, the federal workforce has been reduced by a total of 30,651 employees (…). The procedure for reducing personnel consists of formulating target values for each department. In order to monitor the achievement of targets and to be able to take timely countermeasures in the event of undesirable developments, an accompanying personnel controlling system has been set up.”

Even if, according to the Council of Ministers lecture of 14.10.20 ([link] (https://is.gd/TzfVQO))
, a somewhat modified admission policy is envisaged for the years 2021-2024 in selected areas (including slightly in the health sector), the personnel savings dogma in the public sector is thus basically still being adhered to. As a result of the decades of “saving to the bone” in the public sector, its necessary functionality is at risk in key areas. What is needed here is an urgent paradigm shift in the federal government’s personnel policy.

Only in this way can the chronic staff shortage that has prevailed for years in many areas of the department be sustainably remedied.

Provisional, flexible “solution approaches” through contracts outside the department-specific staffing plan

In the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Long-Term Care and Consumer Protection, as in other departments, “workaround strategies” are being developed as follows in the face of increasing challenges and existing staff savings requirements:
In order to cover the growing need for personnel, which is partly due to the crisis, administrative trainees are being used extensively and more special contracts, including temporary employment contracts, are being concluded outside the departmental staffing plan. On the one hand, this demonstrates the unrealistic permanent staff reduction targets in the federal civil service, which are obviously being maintained in considerable isolation from current crises and challenges.
On the other hand, the department’s executives are increasingly using these special contracts for considerably flexible staff deployment with more or less strong involvement of the existing staff representation.

Increasing workload and overburdening of staff

Despite the “solution approaches” described above in the context of staff shortages, health problems and burnout among colleagues are on the rise in view of the enormous increase in workload.
On the one hand, there are numerous PR campaigns to combat burnout, while on the other hand, the public sector’s own area of responsibility calmly watches as fewer and fewer employees have to perform more and more tasks in the face of increasing challenges.

The independent trade unionists in the public sector (UGöD) in the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection are therefore calling for

* a departure from simplistic, partly ideologically concealed staff reduction targets in the public sector that are considerably disconnected from real developments and necessities,

* extensive measures to improve the staff situation in the department (including an increase in the number of staff and a reduction in the number of employees).among other things increase of the personnel conditions, conversion of special contracts etc. into position-specific jobs etc.),

* the creation of a legal right to age part time for civil servants and contract employees in the federal service,

* the introduction of the 35-hour week with full remuneration compensation.

With union greetings

Harald Fugger
Vienna, 20.07.2022

Harald Fugger
Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection
Stubenring 1, 1010 Vienna
Tel.: +43 1 71100-866138
Mobile: +43 664 245 32 93
[email protected]

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The post UGÖD open letter to Minister Johannes Rauch on critical staff situation in Ministry of Health appeared first on TOP News Austria – News from Austria and around the world.

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