The atmosphere during the meeting between private sector union umbrella GSEE and Troika representatives on Friday was chilly. In fact, it must have been icy-cold despite the high temperatures in Greece’s capital Athens when the issues of dramatically high unemployment, prolonged recession, cancellation of collective bargains and the miserable conditions in the Greek labour market came on the table. “We agreed on one thing: that we disagree in everything, ” President of GSEE Yiannis Panagopoulos told Greek media after the meeting and described Greece’s lenders’ representatives as “charlatans and quacks”.
“Their program has destroyed us, pushed Greek economy into recession, it has created huge problems to the Greek society, above all the surging of unemployment. They came as doctors to give us medicine, but it proved they were charlatans and quacks who gave fake remedy.”
Panagopoulos complained about the Troika’s failure to give answers to GSEE’s questions and critisized “if they [Troika representatives]were civil servants and they would be evaluated, it is certain that they would have been fired.”
GSEE president said that there was no point for a dialogue between the social partners, the employees and the government, when it is clear that a further decrease of the minimum wages are in the background.
IMF’s representative Poul Thomsen reportedly told GSEE, that the Troika did not discuss with the government the wages issue and he admitted, that they had missed the targets of tax revenues. ” You did not have better results in reducing the prices of goods and services,” Panagopoulos reminded.
Panagopoulos said that the GSEE would not participate in the social-partners dialogue, unless minimum wages have been restored.
The second bailout signed between Greece’s and the Troika last February/March decreased the minimum wage by 22% and by 32% for work-starters, i.e. young employees below 25 years old.
Minimum wage dropped from 750 euro down to 586 euro gross (489 net). Younger employees’ wage went down to 510 euro (440 net).
Respectively the unemployment allowance fell from 460 euro down to 359 euro.
In real life, things are even worse for the young employees though. Friends’ children report of monthly wages between €300-€400 without insurance for full-time jobs (10-12 hours) and hardly €150 for part-timers.
Not to mention the reports of employers who do not pay at all…