OPINION

Unionists, bosses must keep talking

For the second time in the past three months, a VPRC public opinion poll has asked people for their opinion on the best way to resolve labor differences. The public’s response is essentially unchanged and it is clear enough. Although the percentages were lower than in March, the latest poll just released shows that nearly half the people polled wanted to see «dialogue between workers and employers» (compared to 65 percent in March). The figure is probably lower not because people have ceased to believe in dialogue. After all, even fewer believe the solution lies in «mobilizing the unions» – 14 percent, down from 11 percent. Nor do people think that «recourse to justice» is the best way to resolve social issues. What is of concern, though, is that since March more than double the number of people have come to believe the solution lies in more government action. The New Democracy government, through both its former and current labor minister, and its economy minister, agree on this point, saying that business owners should give staff pay raises out of «their» profits. That is – partly – what the people mean, since they know that the government can influence these things. But more government and less unionism is a dangerous thing. Labor bosses in the state sector and politicians who exploit union freedoms should consider the harm done to the functioning of democracy by the lack of a natural defender of those working in the private sector, who see that the state sector is the only body where there are guaranteed rights. It is no coincidence that Greece has one of the lowest number of registered union members in its workforce of any other European country. For the same reason, in the broader and truly productive sector of society, the majority oppressed by «Soviet-style guardians of progressivity,» there is a deeply rooted conviction that dialogue is the only solution to labor problems.