Home Uncategorized ‘Growth oriented’ or ‘Barbaric’? Greece’s 6-day work law sparks row

‘Growth oriented’ or ‘Barbaric’? Greece’s 6-day work law sparks row


Greece has rolled out a limited six-day workweek this month in an effort to stimulate its economy. Starting in July, some 24-hour industries in Greece can allow employees to work up to 48 hours per week, compared to the previous maximum of 40 hours. Workers who exceed the 40-hour threshold will receive an additional 40% in overtime pay.
Greek Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the change as “growth-oriented,” focusing its potential to reduce tax evasion resulting from undeclared work.
The new law, which came into effect on Monday, permits certain companies to enforce a six-day workweek. The law applies to private sector workers in specific industrial and manufacturing sectors, or businesses operating continuous shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with some exceptions. It is only allowed “in exceptional circumstances,” such as an unexpectedly increased workload.
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has claimed that the measure is 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.
Labor unions opposed the measure, arguing that it undermines workers’ rights. The bill’s approval last year sparked protests and fierce debates. Greece already has the longest average workweek in the European Union, and critics question whether extending the workweek will boost productivity.
Nikos Fotopoulos, the general secretary of Greece’s private sector labor union, condemned the measure in an open letter to Labor minister Kerameus, calling the government “the most barbaric, most anti-worker government ever.”
Syriza, the leftist opposition party, denounced the change as “a return to working conditions of the 19th century that puts the country to shame.” Fotopoulos further criticized the government’s claim that workers could opt out of the extra day, stating, “Which worker, with the unemployment and poverty we have, would dare to say no to unchecked employers who you’ve allowed to treat workers like their slaves?”
Nearly one in five Greek adults were at risk of poverty last year, according to the research institute of Greece’s private sector workers’ union. This context heightens concerns over the new workweek policy.
The Greek government has attempted to downplay the implications of the move, insisting it is an “exceptional measure” that “does not affect in any way the established five-day working week,” as stated by minister Kerameus.
Following the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, Greece faced a sovereign debt crisis that led to austerity measures, higher taxes, and bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Now, Greece’s approach contrasts with trends in other European economies and the United States, where there is movement towards a four-day workweek. For instance, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed legislation this year to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to define a workweek as 32 hours.
As Greece navigates these changes, the debate continues over the balance between economic growth and workers’ rights.

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