Temporary employment set to grow over next two years

The 2004 Athens Olympics and the needs of private enterprise may provide the impetus to boost temporary employment in Greece, a manager belonging to the world’s temporary employment agency said yesterday. Christos Missailidis, commercial manager of Switzerland’s Adecco group and vice president of the Association of Temporary Employment Firms, told reporters that the demand for temporary employment exists, but, through a combination of union recalcitrance and bureaucratic obstacles, only 0.01 percent of the Greek work force is temporarily employed. The Adecco group has 5,500 temporary employment offices in 58 countries, with over 350,000 client firms, although it has just 400 clients in Greece. In Greece, temporary employment agencies were only legalized in 2001 and this kind of employment is barely beginning to register. Why would a company hire temporary staff? The obvious reason, to cut on labor costs, was downplayed by Missailidis. Indeed, the hiring employers themselves barely mention it. A survey of employers in seven countries showed that 27 percent of employers hire temporary staff to replace absent permanent personnel; 23 percent mentioned seasonal needs or other periods when extra personnel is needed; and 11 percent said they hire temporary personnel on a trial basis, in order to choose permanent employees from among them. Whatever the reasons given, they are probably not enough to make temporary employment attractive to the average unemployed Greek. This is because temporary employment is linked to low wages and uncertain prospects of continued employment. This uncertainty has been exacerbated by the existence of several unlawful companies who took advantage of people, sometimes offering jobs that weren’t there or did not match the initial descriptions. Missailidis himself admitted that many companies use temporary personnel as a way to get around labor laws. «Several companies ask us to provide personnel for low wages but we do not do it; the company will not change the strategy it has followed for so many years now,» he said. He remarked that the contract temporary workers sign must follow the terms of the collective bargaining agreement the company has signed with its permanent personnel. Workplace regulations must be applied to temporary workers, too, while the working hours cannot exceed 40 hours per week, Missailidis said. The 2001 law that legalized temporary employment stipulates that this type of employment cannot exceed 16 months and applies strict standards for temporary employment agencies. Since Adecco became active in Greece, it has found that 20 to 25 percent of temporarily employed people have gone on to permanent jobs. The company has a list of 50,000 CVs, but only 20 to 25 percent of those are from unemployed people. The rest already have jobs.