As union groups prepare this week to launch their next wave of protest action, Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis stressed yesterday that there is room for more talks between workers and employers. Tensions between the two have been growing recently as they try to find common ground regarding the 2006 pay rises. Bank employees were on strike on Friday to also protest their employers’ refusal to enter into wage negotiations on a collective level. This has been followed by a recent proposal made by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), that 2006 pay rises should be in line with European inflation levels and not (much higher) Greek inflation. The developments have put a strain on worker-employer ties at a time when the ruling conservative government has said that it will push ahead with its labor reforms policy. Tsitouridis reiterated his support of workers in a move that could create some friction with fellow government members who have preferred neutral ground, particularly concerning issues in the banking sector. «We are obliged to continue to make sacrifices, especially those who have benefitted in previous years. And these people, of course, were not the workers,» the minister said. Greece’s largest union group, GSEE, is scheduled to meet tomorrow and decide on the date of its next general strike which is expected to take place on March 15.