Gov’t fears defections over strike law change

Gov’t fears defections over strike law change

As lawmakers debate the latest multi-bill of economic reforms demanded by creditors, ahead of a vote expected next Monday, concerns are growing within the ranks of the leftist-led government of possible defections by MPS angry with yet another round of concessions. 

Senior government officials have sought to rally MPs by pointing to Greece’s scheduled exit from its third international bailout this summer. 

However, the upbeat rhetoric has done little to appease the concerns of some on the fringes of SYRIZA over concessions on key principles that the leftist party had defended while in opposition – such as the protection of the properties of overindebted Greeks and the right to strike. 

The multi-bill includes provisions facilitating foreclosures on properties of overindebted Greeks and making it harder for unions to call strikes. 

The provision relating to strike action will not affect the right to strike as such, as far-leftist unionists have claimed.

But it will oblige unions to gather a greater number of votes from their members in order to call a strike: at least 50 percent, compared to the current minimum of a third. 

SYRIZA MP Yiannis Theonas on Wednesday became the first leftist lawmaker to differentiate his position from the party line on the strike provision.

In comments to Skai, Theonas said that changes to unionists’ strike rights should not be legislated, adding that SYRIZA MPs had yet to discuss the provision in question.

The comments fueled concern within the ranks of the government about other possible skeptics, particularly within SYRIZA’s radical Group of 53, often a source of defections.

However, government officials insist that any reservations will be overcome and the bill will pass into law.

Speaking to Real FM on Wednesday, goverment spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos noted that the change to the strike law was not a choice of the leftist-led administration.

“It is not a political choice that we would have taken had we not been under [foreign] supervision,” he said, adding that the compromise could have been more painful if creditors had had their way.

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