Gov’t spokesman: labor costs ‘already low’

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Thursday that a package of some 11.5 billion euros in fresh austerity measures being discussed by coalition leaders and representatives of the country’s so-called troika of foreign lenders was «tough.”

In comments to Mega television channel, Kedikoglou said government officials were pressing on with negotiations in a bid to secure the best possible outcome. But he expressed reservations about the creditors’ demands for the liberalization of the Greek labor market, noting that labor costs are «already low» and that there was no reason for this issue to be raised again by the troika.

Sources said that during a meeting between Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and troika chiefs on Tuesday, Greece?s lenders upped their demands for changes to labor regulations. These requests included scrapping the eight-hour working day and allowing employers to ask staff to work up to 78 hours a week. The only restriction in terms of working hours is that employees should be allowed a minimum of 11 hours of rest between shifts or working days.

The troika has also reportedly asked for a reduction in the period of redundancy notice that employers have to give, thereby allowing them to pay half of the total compensation payment due. The current notice period is four to six months.

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