Employers’ groups at odds

A rift between employers’ organizations appeared to be developing yesterday, ahead of today’s crucial resumption of negotiations with labor unions over a national pay pact. Sources of the traders’ and artisans’ federations said the two bodies were considering submitting an offer of 4.5 to 5 percent in pay raises, in sharp deviation from the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), whose president, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, said last week its offer of 2.8 percent was «generous.» Senior union officials were taking the view that negotiations could not conclude without nominal pay raises of about 6 percent. Separately, Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis also used critical language against SEV. «The time has come for those who profit to contribute to the country’s well-being without provoking the other side or society at large,» he said. Speaking in Parliament on Monday, he said it would be useful «to open a debate on how much of the profits has been invested, how much went to the modernization of firms, to bolstering social cohesion, to research centers and universities… Reforms in the absence of society cannot be conceived.» In a separate, important ministerial meeting scheduled for today, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is expected to press colleagues for a strict implementation of recent labor reform legislation in public utilities, with a view to stemming their growing losses. The deadline to implement the more unfavorable hiring and pay regulations expires at the end of April but officials report that no preparations have been made.