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live Troika wants six workdays per week in Greece

04 September 2012 / 16:09:40  GRReporter
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Six workdays per week for all sectors, eliminating the restrictions on working hours for establishments, eliminating the afternoon rest hours for shops and setting the minimum daily rest to 11 hours. These are just some of the recommendations by the supervisory Troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission to the Greek government related to the changes in labour relations in the country. Vima newspaper published an official document, non paper, by the supervisors to the Greek government, which contains a list of reforms to improve the labour market and contribute to the revival of Greece’s productivity.

Troika insists on more flexible working hours, extended working hours in weekdays and new rules for the use of annual leave. They recommend a full and unconditional liberalization of all sectors and that public institutions should increase the control over labour efficiency instead of emphasizing on licensing procedures. The idea is to remove bureaucratic barriers to entrepreneurship, but to improve control and to introduce stricter penalties in case of infringements (undeclared income, undeclared work, etc.).

In addition, Greece’s creditors insist on adjusting the pensions in the country to the new conditions, stating in brackets that elderly people with the lowest incomes should be protected.

Troika insists on further labour market reforms. The minimum wage should be consistent with the market, as the aim is to support employment in times of crisis. At the same time, jobs offering special training should be provided to be able to begin solving the problem of retraining. The document states that the implementation of the programmes combining training and work together with social work programmes should start by the end of this September.

Employers costs that are not related to productivity and wage costs should also be reduced significantly. This includes contributions to pension and health insurance funds and some of the taxes the companies are currently paying. The regulatory burden should be reduced to a minimum, while the government should emphasize on regulatory effectiveness.

The union of private sector employees (GSEE) responded quickly to the published document and required from the Government to not accept the suggestions. Trade unionists are adamant that such changes in labour relations will have catastrophic consequences for the Greeks. In its official statement, GSEE talks about a social provocation and determines the policies imposed by the government and the Troika as ineffective and futureless. "We require from the Minister of Employment not only to categorically reject any of the suggestions, but to immediately restore the labour legislation and the collective agreements as they existed before the signing of the Memorandum of financial support," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Yiannis Stournaras met confidentially with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble. According to the Greek politician, the meeting took place in a good climate and Deutsche Welle reported that Schaeuble’s conversation with Stournaras is a sign of a positive turnaround in the attitude of Berlin to Athens. The German state urged Greece to properly meet its obligations under the contract for financial assistance and special attention was paid to new austerity measures amounting to 11.6 billion euro. "The credibility between the two countries is gradually restoring and opens the way to an honest and open cooperation, which is still in its beginning," circles from the two ministries said, cited by Naftemporiki.

The German Ministry of Finance said it expected the next report by the supervisory Troika in October. It will determine the payment of the next tranche of financial aid amounting to 31 billion euro. The main part of it will be used for the recapitalization of banks, to finance the deficits in the social security funds and to pay some of the debts of the state to the private sector. Until then, the country continues the trade in short-term government bonds to cover current needs. The Public Debt Management Agency held on Tuesday an auction of six-month bills, which raised 1.14 billion euro. The interest rate on the short-term loan is 4.45% and the coverage is 1.95 times.

The opposition party SYRIZA is clear that the policy of the three-party coalition is wrong and does not give the country a real chance to get out of the deepening crisis. The economic commission at the radical left visited Minister of Economy Kostas Hatzidakis to be informed on the plan for the financial recovery of Greece. Opposition and government remain divided on the issues of privatization, financial sector management and reforms. SYRIZA insists on state control of banks, abolition of the Memorandum of financial support and on strengthening the social policies without providing an alternative for the funding of the deficit beyond the agreement for financial aid signed with the countries in Europe. As for Stournaras’ visit to Berlin, SYRIZA said, "Every meeting of representatives of the Greek government with leaders from Europe reveals the political nakedness of the government and the lack of fruitful solution of the issue of the country's foreing debt recovery and the recovery of the entire euro area."


Tags: EconomyTroikaGreecenon paperSix workdays per week
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