Gov’t receives reform reminders from employers and unions

The government faced a variety of demands on its economic policy from employers and unions yesterday at a time when it has to deftly navigate between the European Union’s strict guidelines for fiscal adjustment, its pledges for support of the economically weakest groups and its incentives to entrepreneurs. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his economy and development ministers met with the strife-riven General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV). GSEE presented as many as 12 pages of demands and SEV pressured for a greater share in growth. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis reiterated the government’s intention for reforms in income taxation. «This is a policy which will deal with injustices in working people’s taxation. We have secured the resources to support low-income pensioners,» he said after the meetings, referring to the 2.55 billion euros the government has penciled in to support low-income workers and pensioners as of 2007. The head of SEV, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, said after the meeting that «the most substantial social provision is the continuation of the necessary changes,» adding that the companies’ interests coincide with those of a prosperous and developing society. GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos focused on demands such as the heating allowance and the increase in unemployment benefits by 40 percent. Other GSEE demands included the abolition of last year’s labor law on industrial relations, more growth to create more steady and secure employment, promotion of integrated activities with technological upgrading, regional specialization and innovative momentum, and support for small enterprises with restructuring and support of small sectors in crisis.

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