OPINION

The new labor law

the-new-labor-law

The recent labor reform bill is fragmentary and, at points, vague, but it cannot in any way be characterized as a threat to employee rights. On the contrary, it favors employees more than it does employers. It doesn’t violate any of their basic rights, and instead institutes beneficial changes in some sectors of employment. I would have preferred for the bill to straighten certain employer rights as well, allowing lockouts in certain cases and giving both parties equal rights in arbitration.

It is very positive that the bill modernizes the labor laws, instituting more flexible rules that will allow the market to adapt to future changes. It is also positive that the bill makes compatibility adjustments with European Union legislation. Rapid technological change means that it is necessary for a business to be able to adapt and modify its processes in order to execute its plan more profitably while still respecting employee rights. This is a goal that the new law manages to achieve. It is a matter that affects our economy’s competitiveness in international markets.

So why all the fuss from the opposition, all the misinformation and strikes? Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis attributes it to the inability of his critics to properly read and understand the bill. He is wrong. These people know very well how to read and understand. Their reasons for opposing the bill are twofold. One, they are annoyed that the government took the initiative to tackle the problems of the labor market, which they consider to be their own “area.” Labor reforms always took place after public struggle and protest. The government’s quiet action breaks this tradition and we’ll see where that takes us. Two, they are afraid of the new legislation on the democratization and transparency of labor unions. The reform protects those who do not wish to go on strike, removing the old power of a minority of unionists to terrorize employees into striking.

So, they end up opposing the labor reform bill in its entirety, relying on lies and misinformation. The old unionists may be excused. What about the opposition parties? Do they seriously think they’re going to profit out of this?