Social responsibility

At stake at tomorrow’s meeting between the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE, Greece’s largest umbrella union) and representatives of employer groups is not just the content of the next collective labor agreement. Vitriolic verbiage coming from the lips of influential members of both camps signals an attempt to undermine the labor peace that has prevailed in this country over the past 30 years and more since the end of the military dictatorship. Recurrent declarations about Greece’s would-be bid to match the economic models of Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or other countries usually fail to mention one fundamental fact: that the conciliatory approach of employers and employees alike has been the cornerstone of these nations’ achievements. GSEE and SEV, the Federation of Greek Industries, must prove they are entering these talks in good faith and with a sincere desire for mutual compromise. If that is to happen, GSEE must steer clear of political games (which also appear connected to the PASOK Socialist party’s resurgent populism) while SEV must prove that it is not out to impose harsh terms on workers but rather favors a compromise settlement with workers. One cannot ignore the fact that it was SEV Chairman Odysseas Kyriakopoulos who, for no reason, fostered tension with labor groups. Nor can one disregard the fact that the government, which is well aware of the risks, decided (through Labor and Social Security Minister Savvas Tsitouridis) to call on Kyriakopoulos to refrain from pouring more oil on the flames during this sensitive period. Just when the Greek economy appears to be back on track, it would be a grave mistake to hold this upswing ransom to politicking or arrogance. It’s high time that the so-called social partners showed that they keep a spirit of social responsibility when protecting the interests of their members.