Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was due to meet with representatives of Greece’s private sector labor union and business associations on Wednesday in a drive to dampen reactions to and speed up reforms ahead of a January 16 visit to Athens by inspectors from Greece’s creditors, the European Commission, European central Bank and International Monetary Fund — collectively known as the troika — who will assess whether to proceed with talks on a new, 130-billion-euro loan package for Greece.
Papademos’s first meeting will be with the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), which is expected to push for a freeze in private sector wages for the next three years and a reduction in payroll costs of up to 10 percent.
The union representing private sector workers, GSEE, however, has said that it will resist any proposed reductions to minimum wages and to the national collective labor agreement, though it has said that it is ready to concede to a three-year freeze on raises.
On Tuesday, the prime minister met with Labor Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis and separately with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Coming out of his meeting with Papademos, Koutroumanis said that the government is not drawing any red lines, «but the best for everyone would be for some agreement to be reached on the issue of salaries.» He also added that a reduction in minimum wages demanded by the troika is not of direct interest to the government and businesses, which are, instead pushing for reductions in social security payments and Value Added Tax.
Meanwhile, Skai reported on Wednesday that the troika has sent a letter to the Labor Ministry demanding a decrease in the minimum wage — currently set at 751 euros per month — in employers’ social security contributions and in the 13th and 14th salaries, which are disbursed to private sector workers in three installments over the spring, summer and winter holidays. The letter, however, did not make any clear reference to the size of a proposed salary reduction or directly mention an abolition of the supplementary holiday income.