GSEE strike at heart of labor reforms

In a move ultimately aimed at derailing the government’s plans to introduce more flexible work-hours and reduce the cost of overtime, the country’s largest labor union yesterday called for a 24-hour nationwide general strike on Tuesday, July 26. The leadership of Greece’s largest umbrella union, GSEE, met yesterday and issued a rallying call to its members as it begins a battle with the government over the labor reform bill, which the ruling conservatives want to pass through Parliament. «Apart from effectively abolishing the eight-hour workday, it causes a vicious redistribution of income by reducing the cost of overtime in favor of profits for employers, while creating more unemployment and poverty,» GSEE said in a statement calling for Tuesday’s strike. A protest rally will also be held in front of Parliament the same evening. The union pledged to intensify protests from the beginning of September. MPs are due to begin debating the bill today. Even though the government can be confident it will pass through Parliament, thanks to a comfortable New Democracy majority, the conservatives are worried about the turmoil the unionists could create. One general strike organized by GSEE and another work stoppage already caused widespread disruption this year. The Karamanlis government is also concerned about opposition from ND unionists to the government’s plan. The ND party secretary, Vangelis Meimarakis, has hinted that if the unions keep causing problems, the government may call early elections.

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