Government optimistic about negotiations

Government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Monday said he was optimistic Greece will be able to complete negotiations for a second bailout that stalled last week as Athens prepares for a fresh visit by foreign inspectors.

Representatives from Greece’s foreign lenders, collectively known as the troika, will arrive next week, Kapsis said while the technical teams are set to begin work in Athens Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Kapsis on Monday said the government will not be bound by a wage deal reached between employers and unions ? but it will take any agreement into consideration before a decision on labor market reforms.

Business owners and labor unions have agreed to meet on Wednesday to discuss amendments to the current national collective labor contract that could include wage freezes or reductions.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has asked the two sides to take steps to make Greece more competitive but both are reluctant to agree a reduction to the minimum wage and the scrapping of one of the 14 monthly salaries that most private sector workers receive.

There have been suggestions that if the unions and employers are unable to reach an agreement, the government will step in and change labor legislation without their consent.

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