Labor Institute chief warns over unemployment

The majority of Greece’s workforce has become redundant, Savas Robolis, economics professor and director of the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE-ADEDY), told Skai television on Tuesday.

«Unemployment rates keep rising from quarter to quarter,» Robolis said. «4.1 million are working and 4.5 million — unemployed and pensioners — are not. How is it possible for the few to feed the many?» he added.

Last week, data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority set the unemployment rate for August at a record level of 18.4 percent, an increase of 364,353 lay-offs from August 2010, when the unemployment rate was at 12.2 percent.

According to the scientific director of the country’s largest labor association, just 300,000 of the country’s official 1 million jobless receive unemployment benefits for a period of 12 months, adding that once their benefit period has expired, they are forced to turn to their families for financial assistance.

Robolis also rang the alarm bell for the country’s social security foundations, which, he said, are having to turn to internal borrowing in order to meet the additional strain of rising unemployment and decreasing intakes from benefit payments.

He also referred to a recent statement by former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who had said that the government’s aim was for there to be one employed person in every Greek household, calling the statement «unfortunate» and saying that «this would mean financial and social destruction, with 1.5 million people unemployed.»

The economics professor was, however, upbeat about the new interim government’s plan to make better use of funds available under the National Strategic Reference Framework to boost large infrastructure projects, saying this may contribute to curbing a further increase in unemployment in 2012.

«Competitiveness is not about reducing the cost of labor and deconstructing the social security system, but about providing high quality services at a low cost with productive infrastructures,» Robolis told Skai.