Employment policy attacked

Data on unemployment published by the National Statistics Service have come under attack by representatives of employer and employee associations, who talk of a «virtual reality.» At a meeting of the National Commission on Employment yesterday, employers and unionists were in accord in attacking both the validity of the figures and government policy on employment. The government, represented by Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, replied that NSS figures are accepted by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. However, a top unionist, General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) General Secretary Yiannis Manolis, said that NSS employees themselves were disputing the agency’s figures, especially the preliminary figures on unemployment (the final figures are usually released after a long delay). Nikos Analytis, vice president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) said that the fast growth of the economy had not resulted in higher employment rates and wondered what will happen if economic growth slackens. An Economy Ministry official replied that the employment rate is higher than the official one because the NSS did not take account properly of the number of employed immigrants. The same official told unionists that they did not sufficiently appreciate the fact that, during the past year, real wages increased by 3 percent annually while in the rest of the EU they rose by just 0.5 percent. Reppas promised that a new plan to combat unemployment will be presented to the European Commission on October 1 and called on employers and unionists to submit their proposals by next month.

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