Statistics service strike shows no sign of abating

Greece has not seen any new statistics over the last two months as the 1,045 employees of Greece’s state-run national statistics service (ESYE) continue their walkout, which began at the end of September. The last inflation numbers Greece’s number-crunchers spit out were in August. Other important indicators, such as retail sales volume, industrial producers’ prices and building activity, have not been updated since May and June respectively. In total, the publication of some 30 indicators has lagged behind. «Unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of the strikers. Many crucial indicators went downhill in July and it is important that we know whether this trend continued,» the director of economic surveys for Greece’s tourist industry, Panayiotis Pavlopoulos, told AFP. But employers dismissed fears the statisticians’ strike could hamper the collective wage-bargaining that is currently in preparation. «It certainly affects us, but not much… we can also rely on Eurostat figures,» Nikos Analytis, negotiation leader at the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) told AFP. «We’ll base negotiations on current forecasts for annual inflation at 3.6 percent… I don’t think the trade unions will put this figure into doubt,» he said. The consequences for the economy are «enormous,» ESYE trade union leader Nikos Klouvatos told AFP, adding nevertheless that he «regretted» them. ESYE employees say they fear the creeping privatization of their service. «We’re worried the minister (for Economy and Finance, Nikos Christodoulakis) wants to turn ESYE (from a department in the ministry) into an autonomous entity of public law, apparently to make it more flexible,» Klouvatos said. «We have no continuing education and our wages are less than those of other civil servants,» he added. Three hundred jobs have disappeared at ESYE, Klouvatos said, notably in the service’s offices outside the capital Athens. (AFP)