The new year is expected to bring a slew of structural changes to labor relations and the social security system in Greece.
Starting in the first few months of 2021, the government intends to implement significant interventions both in the structure of the local labor market – introducing more flexibility to the hours and location of labor – and in the social security system, with the capitalization of auxiliary pensions.
These interventions are emblematic for the government, bringing significant changes to the operation of an injured market (due to the pandemic) and a pension system still mired in a plethora of problems.
They are also expected to trigger significant reactions, as on both fronts the parties of the opposition and unions are accusing the government of unilateral interventions in the core of unionist action and free collective negotiations, as well as the privatization of sections of the pension system. The government has responded to the criticism by declaring its determination to proceed to reforms “with a positive impact on competitiveness and growth,” aimed at correcting injustices and getting rid of obsolete regulations.
In both cases, Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and his deputy, Panos Tsakloglou, have made their intentions clear.
One of the main interventions to the labor market concerns the extension of the maximum daily working time to 10 hours, without affecting the total annual time of employment and the level of salaries. Working hour flexibility could be decided under certain conditions, likely by the Supreme Labor Council or even via personal agreement between employer and employee.
According to Vroutsis, the objective is to allow workers and companies to better organize the balance between work and family life, and to modify production for more job creation.
Other reforms planned concern the function of labor unions. They include the mandatory registration of workers with their unions and online voting for deciding on any industrial action. The security staff required during strikes at crucial services and utilities will rise to 40%. Another reform pertains to the digital labor card, monitoring when workers clock in and clock out.