NEWS

Employers, unions set for talks on wages

Greece?s largest labor union, GSEE, which represents close to 2 million workers in the private and broader public sector, said Tuesday it would take part in talks with employers but has no intention of discussing a reduction in the minimum wage or other salaries.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos informed unions and business representatives last week that Greece, under pressure from its lenders, would have to reduce wages in a bid to boost its competitiveness.

GSEE said it is prepared to discuss reforms with employers but would not consider changes to the terms of the national collective labor contract.

?They can raise any issue they want as long as it is not to do with wage costs,? said GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos.

The last collective contract was agreed in 2009, since when there have not been any centrally negotiated pay rises in the private sector. Organizations representing employers have mostly supported the retention of the terms of the 2009 contract, including the minimum wage, which currently stands at 751 euros, and the 13th and 14th monthly salaries.

It has been suggested that one of the two salaries be scrapped and the other be incorporated into the 12 monthly payments.

The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) proposed that some regional contracts and deals specific to certain professions in the tourism sector could be scrapped as they lead to salaries that are up to 40 percent above the collective pay agreements.

In line with other employer groups, SETE called for a 10 percent reduction in social security contributions, which it claimed were the highest in Europe. It also suggested that all wages should be paid through bank transfers to avoid undeclared labor and losses for social security funds.