A contentious labor reform bill that has sparked nationwide protests and strikes was carried through Parliament on Wednesday by the center-right government’s majority, with 158 votes in the 300-seat House.
The bill’s ratification came after three days of acrimonious debate that culminated in a heated exchange between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and leftist opposition chief Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday.
“Ten bold changes are included in this bill, changes that will finally help the Greek economy and society to meet the fast pace of the rest of Europe, as well as of our times,” Mitsotakis stressed.
“When governments come to loggerheads with the vast majority of society and its interests, its days are numbered,” Tsipras warned from the dais after the prime minister dismissed criticism that the bill seeks to abolish collective bargaining and the eight-hour workday, while also weakening unions and the Labor Inspectorate.
The government also came under fire from the rest of the opposition, with the head of the center-left Movement for Change, Fofi Gennimata, saying that the legislation “deregulates labor relations, razes workers’ rights and undermines collective contracts.”
“You’re saying that black is white and presenting the bill as though it were pro-worker; it’s laughable,” said Dimitris Koutsoumbas, who heads the Greek Communist Party (KKE), a sentiment shared by the secretary of left-wing MeRA24, Yanis Varoufakis, who said that the government is mistaken to think that it can “defeat logic and justice.”
From the right-wing nationalist Greek Solution, Kyriakos Velopoulos described the new legislation as “Medieval.”