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Greece Will Now Work 6 Days A Week, Labour Unions Call It “Barbaric”

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Greece Will Now Work 6 Days A Week, Labour Unions Call It 'Barbaric'

Workers will have the option of working an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift

As more European countries move towards a shorter, 4-day working week, workers in Greece will have to work for six days every week in a new government initiative aimed at boosting productivity and employment across the nation.

From July 1, employees of private companies that provide round-the-clock services will have to work 48 hours a week instead of the traditional 40 hours. The rule would not apply to food service and tourism workers.

Workers will have the option of working an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift every week and be rewarded with a 40% rise in their daily wage.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has claimed that the measure, a part of a broader set of labour law reforms last year, is “worker-friendly” and “deeply growth-orientated.” “It brings Greece in line with the rest of Europe,” he said.

The government has claimed that a longer work week will ensure employees are sufficiently compensated for overtime work and crack down on the problem of undeclared labour.

PM Mitsotakis has also touted the initiative as a solution for Greece’s shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers. Since 2009, over 500,000 young educated citizens have moved out of the country amid a decade-long debt crisis.

However, the move has been heavily criticised by labour unions and political observers, with some calling it “barbaric”. Unions have argued that the new law will help employers not hire additional staff.

EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, says the Greeks work an average of 41 hours a week — the longest in Europe and get paid much less. The left-wing opposition has often referred to the phenomenon as “Bulgarian salaries in a country of British prices”.

“It makes no sense whatsoever. When almost every other civilised country is enacting a four-day week, Greece decides to go the other way,” Akis Sotiropoulos a member of the civil servants’ union told the Guardian.

“In reality, this has been passed by a government ideologically committed to generating ever bigger profits for capital. Better productivity comes with better work conditions, a better quality of life [for employees] and that, we now know, is about less hours not more,” he added

Research has shown that four-day week programmes help increase levels of productivity and improve levels of focus. In 2022, Belgium gave its workers the legal right to spread their working week over four days instead of five. Similar four-day week trials have also been carried out in countries like UK, Germany, Japan, South Africa and Canada.



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