But is the laborer worthy of his hire?

That Greeks earn low wages is something we all knew, and to some extent the fact was excused by the low cost of living in this country, much lower than that in many European states. But over the past two years, rises in the price of basic goods and services, coupled with wages staying at pre-euro levels, have deepened the income gap between Greece and Western Europe, a differential that sometimes amounts to tens of thousands of euros. Research conducted by UBS – an international firm with headquarters in Zurich that provides financial services – in 70 cities of the world, records precise income levels among 10 professions. In terms of workers’ pay, Greece comes an unlucky 13th among the current 15 EU member states. Teachers, mechanical engineers, sales assistants, bank employees, secretaries, mechanics, bus drivers, managers and executives of multinational firms earn the least in the EU. Only in Portugal, sometimes in Spain or Italy, and of course in the new member states, do workers earn less. According to the survey, incomes are highest in Swiss cities (Basel, Geneva, Lugano and Zurich), New York and Chicago in the USA, and Oslo in Norway. Top earners in the European Union live in Copenhagen in Denmark and Luxembourg. Among the 10 professions examined, workers in Copenhagen earn 20.90 euros hourly on average, and in Athens only 7.30 euros hourly. But the cost of living is nowhere near the same in Denmark and Greece. Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Athens is no longer the cheapest capital in Europe, and the price rises have far outpaced earnings. As a result, Danes’ purchasing power is one-and-a-half times greater than that of Greeks. A Dane needs to work 16 minutes in order to buy a Big Mac, while a Greek needs to work 21 minutes – a figure exceeded in the EU only by the Italians, Portuguese and Spanish.

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