ECONOMY

New labor legislation to tackle flexitime and Olympic needs

By Christina Kopsini – Kathimerini The Labor and Social Security Ministry is planning a new labor law. There are indications that Labor Minister Dimitrios Reppas expects to launch a new cycle of talks this month with representatives of trade union umbrella body GSEE and employers’ groups, with the goal of modifying the wage scale for overtime work and making working hours more flexible. The labor minister would like to resolve three pending issues before national elections put an end to his term. The first concerns flexitime and the second relates to eliminating difficulties faced by companies which pay excessively for «illegal» overtime. The third concerns opening hours for shops and legislation which must be brought in before the 2004 Olympic Games. This includes the conditions governing obligatory leave for employees or the mandatory closing of businesses located near Olympic Games areas. Another equally serious issue is the vocational education system and the European Social Fund. Sources said Reppas in recent months has been looking for a better and safer program for approving schemes and measures funded by the European Central Bank and certifying Vocational Training Centers (KEK). Just a few months before, Reppas took away the license for the Interscience Center, despite its participation in the Community initiative, EQUAL (formed to tackle inequality and discrimination in the labor market). Sources said the strong political ties of this specific KEK were apparently not that effective. Regarding the social security issue, the Labor Ministry does not appear willing to proceed to carry out significant changes. Interest appears to be focused on pension funds in the health sector, the launch of professional funds and the implementation of IT systems among health organizations. Also, radical changes would be too risky one year before national elections.