OPINION

The implications of SEV’s proposals

If the world was run according to reason, not power, then the recent proposal by Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, chairman and executive president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), would not stand a chance. Kyriakopoulos proposed abolishing collective wage agreements for high-unemployment areas and recruiting youth at salaries under the minimum-wage threshold. The SEV chief is pushing for new privileges for industrialists despite the plethora of pro-business measures on tax rates, overtime and working hours. Kyriakopoulos is making workers in the regions of Macedonia and Epirus face the following dilemma: Either adapt to labor conditions in FYROM and Albania or we will move Greek industries to those countries. In practice, the SEV proposals would only redistribute, not reduce, unemployment. Firms would have the power to replace aging workers with cheaper and less demanding youth. Of course, there is the example of Britain under former conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher. After dismantling the powerful unions and privatizing entire sectors of the economy, the Iron Lady established special industrial development zones, free from the bonds of collective labor agreements. The measures spawned economic growth and trimmed unemployment – but the social cost was dear: the collapse of the national health system and public education, the breakdown of the transport system and social exclusion…