NEWS

Afternoon nap just a dream for many due to work demands

Greeks have long abandoned the Mediterranean practice of an afternoon siesta, now considered a luxury, as work takes up more and more of our day, despite the unions’ struggle for a 35-hour work week, minimum wage and collective labor agreements. In Greece, work hours, particularly in the private sector, are becoming longer, the concept of paid overtime is often abolished in practice and the guarantee of satisfactory pay is but a dream for a large sector of the working populace. The French have the shortest work week in Europe (35 hours); Greeks have the longest (40), but the overwhelming majority of European Union member states (prior to enlargement) have a work week of 37 to 39 hours. Naturally these hours do not apply to those with more than one job. According to one estimate, 10 percent of the Greek work force have a second job. According to a 2004 report on the economy and employment by the Labor Institute, the average gross monthly wage in 2003 was 1,289 euros, compared to the lowest average of 1,037 euros in Portugal. The highest average is found in Denmark with 2,691 euros and the Dutch are next with 2,474 euros. «Given that the lowest wage in Sweden is considered high in Greece, workers are forced to get a second job to boost their incomes,» said Yiannis Kouzis, a member of the institute. Low incomes from salaried labor (around 400,000 Greeks are paid less than 600 euros a month) unavoidably lead to moonlighting, meaning that Greeks work almost twice as many hours as Germans to buy the same goods.