The least of work worries

A reduction in the number of work hours does not figure high among working people’s concerns, according to a recent poll by MRB, reported in a press release by the employer-sponsored Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) yesterday. The poll, conducted in December 2003, shows that only 10.6 percent of workers consider a reduction in work hours (without a cutback in pay) as the most important issue facing them. Higher pay emerges as the top concern among 52.6 percent of respondents, while improvements in pensions are seen as the next most important concern by 18.2 percent. Furthermore, 53.8 percent of those questioned declared themselves very or quite satisfied with their work hours, 23.4 percent are neutral and 21.6 percent say they are very or quite dissatisfied. The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) has said it will press for a gradual reduction in weekly work hours from 40 to 35, beginning with 39 in the negotiations for a national pay pact for 2004 which were launched last month. Industrialists’ and – especially – traders’ organizations have strongly opposed the demand, saying it will drive many enterprises into financial straits and then on to bankruptcy, thus boosting unemployment. IOBE, which is sponsored by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), cites a 2000 study of its own (D. Nikolitsas, «Work Hour Arrangements»), according to which «arrangements of minimum work hours on a basis longer than weekly is a flexible form of labor organization, particularly useful for enterprises with seasonal fluctuations in production.»