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The supervisory Troika insists on wage cuts in the private sector

22 January 2012 / 14:01:36  GRReporter
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Changes in labour relations in both the private and public sectors constitute a fundamental requirement of the supervisory Troika at this stage, as its representatives believe that this type of intervention can help the Greek economy to recover faster.

On Friday during a press conference the communist labour movement PAME revealed the existence of a document in the form of a legislative act draft. The document, whose author is not listed, provided for the termination of the validity of all contracts including the national framework agreement and the sectorial agreements.

According to a statement by Vassilis Korkidis, chairman of the National Confederation of Greek Traders (ESEE), this proposal had been sent by the Association of Hoteliers to the Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, and was subsequently passed from the Federation of Greek Industrialists (SEV) to the social partners. Korkidis stressed, however, that employers have not agreed to terminate the validity of contracts.

According to PAME representatives, this text was supposed to be discussed last Wednesday at a meeting of the Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) with employers. The meeting was interrupted by PAME unionists, who invaded the headquarters of the Confederation. All this happened at a time when the government showed that it can interfere with the enactment of salaries paid in the private sector.

According to information, during a recent meeting between the Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the economic staff with representatives of the Troika, the new loan agreement and the new memorandum were not discussed and the focus was mainly on the completion of this programme. Moreover, as long as the exchange program of the Greek bonds (PSI +) remains incomplete the Troika does not intend to negotiate a new programme.

Again according to information, at the first meeting the Troika representatives have expressed concerns that there are no prerequisites for getting out of the recession. In this regard, they believe that the government will have to intervene in the labour market, commodity markets (they consider the fact that prices are not falling to be paradoxical), and in general in the field of reforms.

First on the list is the issue of labour relations. According to sources, the Troika does not put pressure to eliminate the 13th and 14th salary as well as the minimum wage. In this respect, European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said "I cannot confirm anything. At this point (on Friday, 20 January) the representatives of the Troika are in Athens and they have still not met with the Greek Minister of Labour and therefore this issue has not been discussed."

Currently in the “bull’s eye” in the public sector are the ones working in the newly created enterprise structure. Most likely the additional benefits for employees will be looked through again and it is expected that a path for layoffs will be opened. The question is how Greece will emerge from the recession. The Ministry of Finance has not audited the forecast for a slight recovery in 2013. However, competent senior officials note that this estimate is subject to review, as currently there are many uncertainties. It is estimated that in 2011 the GDP shrank by 6 percent (maybe a little more). Among some the uncertainties are the following:

- The impact of new measures which will be implemented this year. Recent information mentions the need to take new measures, which will amount to 1 to 1.5 billion Euros from new layoffs.

- How the contract of Greek debt (PSI +) will be restructured. Nobody knows how investors will react, positively or negatively, after the completion of PSI +.

- How big the recession will be in 2012. The Ministry of Finance does not exclude the possibility for it to reach high levels (4- 5 percent).

Tags: Greece economy recession Troika layoffs
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