Six-day week or else, Greece told September 6, 2012Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Yunanistan.
Tags: Antonis Samaras, EU, Euro, Greece
Seeking a four year deadline to fulfill debt reduction targets and spending cuts … Antonis Samaras.
GREECE’S eurozone creditors are demanding that the government introduce a six-day working week as part of the stiff terms for a second bailout.
The demand is contained in a leaked letter from the ”troika” of the country’s lenders, the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In the letter, the officials policing Greece’s compliance with the austerity imposed in return for the bailout insist on radical labour market reforms, from minimum wages to overtime limits to flexible working hours.
This is likely to worsen the standoff between the government and organised labour.
After a long delay caused by months of political paralysis in Greece, the troika of inspectors return to Athens this week to scrutinise observance of its bailout terms. They are expected to deliver a verdict next month that will determine whether Greece is ultimately allowed to remain in the single currency.
The letter, sent last week to finance and labour ministries, orders the government to extend the working week into the weekend.
”Measure: increase flexibility of work schedules: increase the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors.
”Set the minimum daily rest to 11 hours; delink the working hours of employees from the opening hours of the establishment; eliminate restrictions on minimum/maximum time between morning and afternoon shifts; allow the consecutive two-week leave to be taken any time during the year in seasonal sectors.”
The instructions focus on labour market reforms, calling for the national labour inspectorate to be radically reformed and put under European supervision.
The letter reveals the detail of eurozone intrusion into a national system and culture of work widely seen outside Greece as dysfunctional.
There should be a permanent ”single-rate statutory minimum wage”, seen as an incentive for getting people back to work in a country where unemployment has soared to about 30 per cent.
”Unemployment is too high, and policies are needed to prevent it from becoming structural,” the letter says.
It also calls for non-wage labour costs to be lowered, employers’ welfare contributions to be cut, and deregulation of the labour market.
There is growing conviction in Berlin and Brussels that the government of Antonis Samaras has fallen well behind in the economic and fiscal reform programs imposed in return for two bailouts in the past two years.
The government is struggling to come up with persuasive policies to enact spending cuts.
Mr Samaras is pleading for more time – four years rather than two – to fulfil debt reduction targets and spending cuts.