GSEE warms up for congress

Increases in wages and salaries, a consolidation of labor relations, and an initial reduction of weekly work hours to 39 will be the basic demands that labor unions will put forward in the upcoming negotiations with employers over a national labor agreement, the General Confederation of Greek Labor’s (GSEE) president, Christos Polyzogopoulos, said yesterday. Speaking at a press briefing before GSEE’s 32nd national congress, which opens at the Novotel hotel at 6 p.m. today, he charged employers with holding an unacceptable pre-negotiating position, and reiterated that the unions will insist on average pay raises of 8 percent and the 39 hours. GSEE has said the claim, besides a share in productivity gains, includes an increment for convergence with average wages in the EU. Employers have initially offered 3.5 percent. The GSEE congress will end on Sunday and delegates will elect a new 45-member board. The main opposition PASOK-affiliated group (PASKE) is projected again to win a relative majority of 22 seats. Ruling New Democracy party-affiliated DAKE and Communist Party leaning PAME, which now hold nine and 10 seats respectively, will vie for second place. An unknown quantity is the bank employees’ group (ASKE), which is said to be considering merging with DAKE; such an eventuality is projected to change the balance of power among the different groups. According to GSEE data, the number of its members has risen 15 percent in the last four years to 840,000. Separately, bank workers’ and employers’ representatives are meeting today for a discussion of a labor agreement in the sector.

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