Labour Research September 2016

European news

Greek unions and employers agree position on labour law

The main Greek private sector union confederation, GSEE, and four employers’ associations have agreed a joint position on possible changes to the country’s labour laws in advance of new negotiations with Greek’s international creditors expected to begin later this month.

As part of the bail-out deal reached with the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund in August 2015, the Greek government agreed to “bring the collective dismissal and industrial action frameworks and collective bargaining in line with best practice in the EU”. Just over a year later the details have now to be negotiated. 

The joint statement omits many areas of disagreement between the two sides, such as the rules on extending agreements to employers who have not signed them, but includes some key points where the views of employers and unions coincide. These include: 

• no further reduction in the minimum wage or the abolition of the pay supplements paid in the summer and at Christmas; 

• a call for the minimum wage to be negotiated between unions and employers not imposed by the government; and 

• a statement that, while the law on unions needs to be modernised, the right to strike must not be called into question. 

Labour minister Georgios Katrougalos has expressed the hope that the joint statement will “help us reject the extreme neo-liberal positions of some participants [in the negotiations] who want to continue the deregulation of the labour market”.