Pictures - Ethnos newspaper
Minister of Employment, Yiannis Vroutsis, expressed his content that the first meeting of the Trilateral Commission, which will have to decide on changes in labour legislation, took place in a spirit of understanding and cooperation. He noted that all participants - trade unionists, employers and government representatives are fully aware of the complicated situation in Greece, and therefore are willing to cooperate most effectively in current conditions.
More specifically, at the dialogue table sat the chairmen of the Confederation of Employees in the Private Sector, the Confederation of Industrialists and Medium-sized Businesses, the National Confederation of Greek Trade and the Federation of Greek Industries.
Before the meeting, from the Union of employees in the private sector GSEE said that they were for the recovery of wages and contracts at the level they had been before the changes introduced by the memorandum for financial assistance. Another request was for labour relations to be determined collectively on the basis of free negotiations between union representatives and employers. After the meeting, the union leader, Yiannis Panagopoulos, said that "the main question has not been answered yet. And it is whether the government can impose the result of our negotiations with employers to the supervisory Troika". According to Mr. Panagopoulos, reducing the minimum wage has led to a surge in grey employment. "From the moment when measures for development are not taken, it is necessary for the unemployed to receive benefits for a longer period of time", added the trade union leader.
In turn, the chairman of the Confederation of Industrialists and Medium-sized Businesses, Dimitris Asimakopulos, expressed his belief that dialogue participants can reach consensus, but added that there is no guarantee that the government will accept it and submit it to a vote in the Parliament. The proposal of the Confederation is to repeal the 22 per cent cut and so the minimum wage of 586 euro, as it is today, would reach 701 euro with a reduction of 5 per cent. The other suggestion is to extend the validity of collective agreements.
The Confederation of Greek Trade also favours the proposal to restore the minimum wage to 701 euro with a decrease of 7 per cent. Its chairman Vassilis Korkidis said that according to research "in this way, within two years 4.7 billion euros will flow into the market, and the state will gain 2.4 billion".
The representative of the Federation of Industries did not make a statement, but later issued a written press release. It states that the reduction of labour costs, especially in those companies where there are remunerations exceeding 100 per cent provided in the national collective agreement, as well as the removal of all obstacles to competitiveness, are priorities of the Industrialists in the social dialogue.
According to the minister, the work of the Trilateral Commission will end in the shortest time. However, he stated that it considers not only labour relations, but also a number of other issues such as grey employment, tax evasion, non-payment of labour and health insurance and taking measures for the unemployed. Along with the commission, an expert group will also work to submit proposals and solutions for these issues as well.
Questioned in what direction the government is moving after the supervisory Troika called for mass implementation of individual employment contracts, Yiannis Vroutsis answered indirectly: "Only a few days ago we welcomed the signing of collective agreements in hotel companies and private hospitals. I think this is indicative of our intentions". Immediately afterward he said that currently the first and most important task in Greece is to regain the confidence of creditors. Earlier today, a representative of the European Commission officially announced that their representatives will arrive in Athens on July 24.
Immediately afterwards, the Minister announced the drastic measures aimed at curbing tax evasion and social security contributions. In the coming days Yiannis Vroutsis will sign ministerial decisions with which the records of the insurance funds will be linked to the Directorate General of Revenue of the Financial Ministry. "Thus, with no additional work needed, control authorities will be able to verify data and to identify the false pensioners who don’t submit tax returns. This will reveal all cases of illegal receiving of pensions on behalf of deceased relatives. "The ministry also announced that the various local social services will be gathered together in one place in order to save costs. In case additional staff is necessary, officials from other government departments will be sent.