ECONOMY

Union demands more rights for contract workers

The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) yesterday said that employers took advantage of contract employees to bypass regulations limiting the number of layoffs allowed per year and obliging them to provide compensation to employees whose contract is terminated. «In the private sector, a great abuse (of employee rights) is taking place, supposedly in the name of flexibility. In reality, there is a flagrant violation of the right to compensation in case of a layoff, as well as of the limitations in the case of mass layoffs,» GSEE mentions in a letter to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos. GSEE demands are summarized as follows: * In fixed contracts lasting more than 12 months, compensation should be paid upon termination. * Employees hired to cover «temporary needs» should be considered on an open-ended contract if their contract is for more than four months. * If the same employee is hired twice via successive 12-month fixed contracts, or if the original contract is extended twice, with a total duration of 18 months, he or she should be deemed to be working on an open-ended contract. * Fixed contracts should be in writing and a copy deposed with the local Labor Inspectorate. Employers who fail to do so should be penalized. * No «probationary» period should be part of any fixed-term contract. At present, a law, passed in 1920, allows an employer to terminate a contract after two months without compensation. In open-ended contracts, a probationary period of over two months’ duration, if it does not lead to permanent employment, should lead to the employee’s compensation. * The duration of foreign employees’ work permit should not affect their fixed contracts (that is, they should not be limited to the duration of the work permit). * All of the above should take effect retroactively from June 28, 1999, when Directive 99.70/EC was passed by the European Union. GSEE is presently involved in tough negotiations with employers over a collective wage agreement. The government has said it will not mediate in the process, despite GSEE having threatened to walk out of the next meeting, due on May 13, if an agreement is not reached. The government is also unlikely to take up GSEE’s demands on private sector contracts immediately, in order not to displease employers.