GSEE leaves empty-handed

Greece’s largest umbrella union group, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), came up empty-handed from a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday and announced it will move ahead with protest action to push ahead with financial demands. GSEE is calling for an additional benefit to be paid to lower-income groups to help offset a drop in purchasing power from rising inflation and higher fuel prices. «From the meeting with the prime minister, we are leaving poorer than when we got here,» said Yiannis Panagopoulos, president of GSEE, the umbrella group for more than 2 million public and private sector workers. «Regarding the requests we made, we received no answer but received confirmation the government will maintain its economic policy.» GSEE, along with other worker groups, plan to demonstrate on September 6 in Thessaloniki during the annual international fair which the government uses to outline its economic policy. Karamanlis is not expected to make any announcements regarding handouts to social groups, as the government is struggling to meet this year’s fiscal goals due to a slowing economy and high oil prices. According to government sources, the Finance Ministry is working on plans to introduce new taxes on dividends and share-capital gains to help lift sagging revenues. The president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the country’s leading group of enterprises, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, cited Karamanlis as telling him the new taxes are still at a «planning stage.» «We must not handle one-off situations with permanent taxes,» Daskalopoulos told journalists after meeting with Karamanlis. [email protected]