ECONOMY

Talks with unions, employers

Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis will meet next week with representatives of employers’ associations and workers’ unions. Employers and employees are engaged in tough negotiations over this year’s pay rises and remain far apart in their positions. The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) demands a «minimum» pay rise of 8 percent and a cut in working hours to 39 per week from the current 40. Employers, most notable the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), offer just 3.2 percent and appear equally determined not to budge. GSEE has already called for a 24-hour general strike on March 31. Alogoskoufis’s talks will be mostly exploratory, but at a later stage he is likely to mediate between the two sides. The last thing the incoming government wants, less than five months ahead of the Athens Olympics, is labor unrest that may jeopardize agreements made for an Olympic truce on labor issues.