The government is preparing the next big package to prop up jobs and avoid an explosion in unemployment in the fall.
This time, it will have the aid of the European Commission, which has allocated to Greece 2.73 billion euros in long-term, low-interest loans from its emergency temporary Support fund to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). By the end of the year, Greece should have received about €1 billion in SURE payments.
The fact remains that many people are anticipating the coming fall and winter months with dread. This is especially true for those who work in catering (restaurants, cafés and bars), tourism, transport, sports and cultural events – that is, the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.
There are also seasonal workers, who normally count on the tourist season to earn the bulk of their income and live on unemployment support for the rest of the year.
According to the federation of catering and tourism employees, of the 500,000 people hired in 2019 as seasonal workers, half were not hired this year; and among those not hired, half have not received any income support.
Labor Ministry data show that 170,000 jobs were lost during the first seven months of the year, while, according to the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED), the number of unemployed in July exceeded 1 million and was more than 125,000, or about 13%, higher than July 2019. According to Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data, the unemployment rate climbed from 14.5% in March to 17% in May, the first time since 2014 that it has risen two months in a row. And no rebound is in sight.
At a meeting Tuesday between Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and representatives of employees in tourism and catering, ministry officials explained that some employees had not received income support, or received less than expected, because of mistakes in the submission of applications, including applying on more than one online platform. Vroutsis said new payments for suspended contracts will be made this Friday.