Sophia's Peace Work

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Creeping Corruption

(I wrote this over a year ago but failed to post.  Its a bit of an obvious rant).
In Iraq, where government staff are known to "call it a day" by 1:30 pm and where a recent survey of the local municipality found that the average amount of time that people were actually working was an incredible 25 minutes a day, it should not be surprising that even at a progressive Iraqi NGO (non-governmental organization), a sort of creeping corruption can start to wiggle its way in.
Take the example of staff leaving to continue their education. The management and the staff in question seem to think it is fine to continue getting a portion of their salaries even though they are not really productive employees while pursuing their degrees. Even in the case where staff have full government support to cover their education and living expenses (because most of these staff are simply on leave from government jobs), they seem to think it is their right to continue to be paid making vague promises of continuing to work while they pursue their studies. 
And of course each new staff leaving to pursue their education can claim that they deserve the same rights as the previous staff. Recently at our organization, one of our employees made the same claim, promising to fulfill a number of jobs even while under a full course load of study at a university abroad.
I expressed my disagreement with this policy stating that if we really wanted this staff to success, we would not ask them to continue working while they were pursuing their degree program. Give them a gift of support if you want and can afford it but don't call it a salary and have expectations that they will fulfill their obligation to work.
I was overruled and as it turned out, this staff was able to do very little (though I'm sure they would protest this analysis). Ok, it doesn't work, so lets stop paying him for work he can not do. But then the accusations comes. He's a X and you've paid Y staff, so you have a double standard (Fill in X & Y with whatever you will ... Kurd/Arab,  Sunni/Shia, etc.). A board member steps forward to champion X based on this logic and now suddenly we are paying him even though we know he is doing nothing! 
Rather than of putting a stop to the policy altogether, this board member has simply allowed a form of corruption to become more deep-seated within the organization.
People should want to work for an organization like ours because we do good and worthwhile work. We shouldn't have to bribe our staff to work for or stay with us. Paying them for work that they are not doing is an insult to the rest of the staff that have to pick up the slack for them. It stops us from being able to be financially responsible and straightforward in our dealings with the rest of the staff and it is simply a form of creeping corruption.


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