Today, Friday, delays and queues are awaiting passengers at “Eleftherios Venizelos” airport since the employees of 35 international companies announced a strike. They are protesting against the change of legal labour relations. After the liberalization of the labour market in Greece, the managements of different airlines have offered their employees not to sign a Collective Agreement but to establish individual contracts with each employee. The Federation of Employees in 35 of the foreign companies disagreed and announced a protest.
The message of the Federation says: "After two months of negotiations the unions of ground personnel in Greek airlines agreed to a reduction of monthly salaries, ranging between 6 and 12 percent, by signing new collective agreements. Through AOFA foreign airlines want a reduction between 40 and 50 percent of our salaries and indirect cuts, which include reducing man-hours and making some holidays working days."
The crisis and the growing uncertainty push international companies towards gradually withdrawing from the Greek market. Singapore, Delta and Continental have stopped their flights to Athens. According to sources in the past two years their flights were virtually empty and the pessimistic prospects of the Greek economy have contributed to the decision to terminate the Greek route. Foreign tourist arrivals in Greece decrease each year, and fuel prices continue to rise. According to the Greek Union of tourism enterprises, for the period January to March 2012, 15 percent fewer tourists have landed in Athens compared to the same period last year. The International Union of air carriers estimated that until now European air transport companies have lost hundreds of millions of Euros due to the rising fuel prices and until the end of the year the hole in costs may exceed 1.5 billion Euros if the price per barrel of crude oil exceeds 150 US Dollars.
The changes in working relations and reduction in wages does not only concern the ones employed in air transport, but all employees in the private sector in Greece. In early spring the government of Lucas Papademos adopted a law, which cancelled the General collective agreement. The government allowed employees and employers to negotiate according to their own fields, in order to reach consensus on wage levels during the next year. If agreement is not reached within three months from the end of last year’s Collective employment contract, employers have the right to reduce salaries up to 35 percent, depending on experience and bonuses.
The official Labour Minister Antonis Roubakiotis proposed a "moratorium" on the process of reducing salaries, in order not to stretch further social tensions before Greece gains a stable government. As a representative of a caretaker government with one mandate Roubakiotis cannot repeal a law passed by the previous government. This is why he invited the main trade unions and professional organizations, in order to jointly agree on a stop of layoffs. Currently only the National Chamber of Commerce has reached a consensus with their employees, where employers and employees agreed on a an 11 percent reduction in salary until the spring of 2013.