Responsible negotiation

Negotiations between the umbrella trade union body GSEE and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) on a collective labor agreement are the high point in the pursuit of a common denominator between employers and employees – a necessary prerequisite for social harmony. The principal goal of the negotiating parties is to safeguard the interests of the groups they represent. On the other hand, their huge social responsibility makes it incumbent upon them not to succumb to the temptation of entrenching themselves behind their narrow class interests. A sense of moderation should guide both sides while haggling. A balanced solution could only be to their mutual benefit.The representatives of both groups have to display wisdom, moderation and flexibility; these are realistic demands, not moralizing talk. They stem from the fact that it is in the medium-term interest of both the employees and employers to reach an agreement which will reflect the genuine economic state of affairs. It has been proved in the past that any excess leads to disequilibrium and tension which eventually also harms the side that initially emerges as the gainer in negotiations. Current developments are taking place in a climate of economic recession, if not crisis. A considerable number of businesses are in a shaky state; often their very survival is at stake, given the unfavorable and competitive environment. Trade unions should not ignore this fact, while employers, for their part, should pay attention to workers’ legitimate demands. There is no doubt that many businesses have not adequately exploited revenues from the stock market in previous years and have scarcely made any investments to modernize their infrastructure and improve their competitiveness. A considerable number of enterprises actually indulged in speculation and as a result undermined the position of their firms for personal benefit. All this is known to everyone and constitute a black mark against Greece’s entrepreneurial world. But they do not change the real picture. The unions ought to bargain bearing the state of the companies and of the economy in mind as, unfortunately, times are hard and the first victims of an intensification of the crisis would be the employees who are haunted by the specter of unemployment.

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