Transport minister urges consensus on labor reform

Greece’s infrastructure minister on Thursday called for a ?consensus? on measures for labor market reform ahead of a visit by the country’s foreign lenders.

However, he warned of the dangers of the government opting for a legislative act if no agreement in reached. This would allow the government to bypass the parliamentary procedure and avoid having to come to an agreement with unions and employers.

?I think it’s important that Greece has a clear position and that it is very united on this issue,? Makis Voridis told Skai television on Thursday.

?We are still lacking a single voice,? he said, adding that any position on labor reform must be supported by all the parties involved in the coalition administration.

The government is though to be preparing a law that will suspend businesses’ obligation to raise their basic salaries by 2.6 percent as of July 2012, in accordance with the collective labor contract agreed by employers and labor unions.

Reports have suggested the act is also going to include the incorporation of about half of the Christmas, Easter and summer bonuses into the monthly salaries.

Speaking to Skai Thursday, Voridis made no comment on the question of the so-called 13th and 14th month salary. The extra two salaries per year have been trimmed in the public sector as part of austerity measures.

Greece has promised to see through a package of measures including changes to employment rights and market liberalization in exchange for precious bailout aid. But actual results have so far been poor.

Voridis on Thursday repeated an earlier pledge that a long-delayed law liberalizing taxis would be ready next week. He has said the bill would take into account population and environmental criteria, which appears to have satisfied the taxi drivers, who opposed the total liberalization of their sector.

A team of foreign inspectors representing Greece’s lenders known collectively as the troika, are due in Athens mid January to continue negotiations with Greece on the country’s second bailout worth 130 billion euros.

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