Jobs rethink begins

Proposals aimed at making the Greek work force more flexible and mobile, while providing greater job opportunities for people aged over 55 were unveiled by Labor and Social Security Minister Savvas Tsitouridis yesterday. He signaled the government’s intent to focus efforts on finding jobs for this age group after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss the details of the proposals. A recent study showed that among European Union citizens, Greeks stay in one job for the longest period and are least likely to relocate in order to find work. The Labor Ministry has identified this as a key weakness in the country’s work force. Coupled with the burden of having a large aging population, there are major concerns about the pressure this will bring on Greece’s social security system in years to come. Without providing details of his suggestions, Tsitouridis said that his department is designing policies that will be implemented from next year and will help youngsters, women and people over 55 find jobs while also encouraging the movement of workers. «On these matters, we are intensifying our efforts to come up with dynamic employment policies which will help these specific groups to find work,» the minister said. Tsitouridis also said that the government was looking to carry out some «tidying up» of the labyrinthine social security system. He said the drive to unite the myriad supplementary pension funds as part of an effort to simplify the social security system would continue at full pace. Greece’s largest umbrella union, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), wrote to Tsitouridis yesterday and informed him that it is willing to discuss the unification of supplementary funds as soon as the government makes public the method it will use to achieve this complex goal. Having tried to mediate between banks and their employees over the controversial decision to conduct separate pay negotiations, Tsitouridis was keen to emphasize yesterday that all the reforms would be carried out with the broadest possible backing. «All these changes are taking place with the consensus of employers and workers and with the understanding of the political parties in Parliament,» he said.