In the past week, private sector employers have been hiring new employees without sticking to the terms dictated in last year’s national collective wage agreement. The 2009 wage agreement was valid for new hirings made until the start of this month, as the 2010 deal has yet to be agreed upon, giving businesses every opportunity to negotiate with prospective employees on a one-on-one basis and offer a gross monthly salary below the 740-euro minimum. The threat of more hirings taking place based on these individual agreements is putting pressure on the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) to adopt a more conservative stance in its negotiations with employer groups. Unofficial talks between GSEE and employer representatives are still continuing despite problems. However, official negotiations are set to continue after today’s general strike, whose main aim is to protest the government’s pension reforms. The latest developments regarding wage negotiations show that the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) continues to strongly oppose incorporating the Christmas, Easter and summer bonuses into the basic pay structure. Yiannis Panagopoulos, GSEE’s president, is insisting on this point, in a bid to prevent them from being as in the public service. Another major component of the new agreement is likely to include the adoption of an annual pay hike that will be around inflation levels seen in the European Union and will range around 1 percent. A proposal made by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) to offer its 500,000 employees a 1 percent hike may pave the way for how talks will develop on the broader wage agreement. It seems likely that a 1 percent pay hike will be effective as of 2012, while there are also talks in progress on gradually merging the bonus payments on the condition that such a move would not affect other benefits, such as family allowances.