NEWS

Greek metalworking firm offers workers cash bonus for Covid-19 vaccinations

greek-metalworking-firm-offers-workers-cash-bonus-for-covid-19-vaccinations

A Greek metalworking company is offering workers a 500 euro ($593) bonus to get vaccinated against Covid-19, worried that fresh infections could derail a boom in orders as the economy starts to pick up following the first wave of the pandemic.

Cosmos Aluminium in the central city of Larissa, which employs around 180 workers, has seen a surge in orders since the start of the year and fears that having to shut down production for even a day would push it off track.

“It would be a catastrophe,” said company vice president Yannis Kantonias.

Yannis Kantonias, vice president of Cosmos Aluminium, looks at the factory's facilities in Larissa, Greece, July 8, 2021. Picture taken July 8, 2021. Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters
Yannis Kantonias, vice president of Cosmos Aluminium, looks at the factory’s facilities in Larissa, Greece, July 8, 2021. Picture taken July 8, 2021. Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters

The move, in line with a government push to speed up vaccinations as the more contagious Delta variant of the virus has spread, underlines the challenges companies are facing as they try to keep up with buoyant demand as economies recover.

On Friday, the Greek statistics agency reported that industrial production jumped 14% in May as the economy gained speed after last year’s imposed shut-down.

Cosmos, which mainly serves markets outside Greece, had introduced a range of precautions, with workers standing at safe distances apart but found that a significant number were sceptical about getting vaccinated.

“We thought that by rewarding all those who were responsible, we could build on a trend among those who were more indifferent and change their minds,” Kantonias said.

Greece, which got through the first phase of the pandemic last year in better shape than many other countries but saw a strong resurgence of the disease this year, has faced a worrying rise in case numbers in recent days and has started to tighten restrictions once again.

Next week the government is expected to announce compulsory vaccinations for workers in some key segments like healthcare and elderly care centres.

Currently, about 38% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and the government has offered incentives, including cash and free mobile data for young people, in a bid to bring the rate up to 70% by the autumn.

For Yannis Panikos, a worker at the Cosmos Aluminium plant, the bonus was “a nice surprise” that should reassure the production floor.

“Certainly there is a fear, due to the conditions of production we come in contact with other colleagues, so there is always a fear when you hear about a case.”

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An employee works at Cosmos Aluminium factory in Larissa, Greece, July 8, 2021. Picture taken July 8, 2021 [Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters]

[Reuters]