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Are the Banks behind the Labour Middle Ages in Greece?

What has being circulating like a rumor in recent weeks, it slowly started to appear  in news portals and blogs, even though hardly in mainstream media:  That the overthrown of labour rights in private sector is due to proposals tabled by the Greek banks and not directly by the Troika.

When the issue of the dramatic changes in labour rights arose last August, many wondered why does the Troika intervene in issues like cutting by 50% compensation for fired employees,  minimizing the time of lay-off notice, freezing of wages hikes for those earning the minimum wage, increasing working hours and declaring  ‘Saturday’ a working day – meaning no extra payment or an extra day off – for thousands of employees. What would be Troika’s gains out of these intervention in Greek private sector and thus per law, whereas it is actually a deal between employer and employee in a free market?

Troika, Troika

Why does the Troika care if I, owner of a socks selling shop, pay my employee this or that amount, fire him with on 12-months notice or six months earlier, and give him as compensation 12 months salaries or more as I want to respect national collective bargains? 

Why does the Troika insist on a measure that will bring zero revenues to the state and thus will crash the insurance funds due to minimized contributions? A fact in case an employee is hired with minimum wage of 580 euro gross per month and receives this wage for the next ten years. Or until unemployment currently at 25% falls below 10%, as it is apparently said by the Troika.

Joke of Competitiveness?

Is the whole plan worked out in the name of “Competitiveness” as they try to “sell” these measures?  Or is it just the implementation of organized interests demands in sectors undergoing overhauls (see: mergers), in sectors that will have to lay-off thousands of employees who happen to have a strong trade union? You know, a sector like the banking sector currently experiencing waves of mergers.

Rumors about Banks

The rumor that the Greek banks are behind the upside-down of labour rights: True or False? Logic or Nonsense?

It sounds very logical as at the end of the merger process no more than four banks will be operating in Greece. Dozens of bank branches will have to close down, thousands of bank employees will have to be laid-off. With the possible less cost for their former employers.

At the very end, it looks like a measure tailored to protect primarily the interests of the banking sector but unfortunately it will be enforced into the whole private sector. 

Looks what’s happening in the private sector right now: Those under 25 years old work for 300-350 euro per month, sometimes 10 hours per day, no insurance and no social contribution, lay-offs with a 24-hour notice and compensation “a kick in the a**”.

More Serious than Thought to Be…

What has been rumored during the last weeks, it was ‘confirmed’ by Yannis Panagopoulos, President of Greek private sector umbrella-union GSEE, on Monday night during the late political talk show “ANATROPI” at private Mega TV.

“Governor of Bank of Greece Provopoulos has been circulating a non-paper  concerning the smashing of compensations in the private sector since 2009,” Panagopoulos said during the live program adding that “Provopoulos had also submitted a relevant amendment when Papaconstantinou was Finance Minister”. (Video on Mega TV – Panagopoulos at 41:52)

The aim was primarily to change the law on compensation for bank employees to enable massive lay-offs in the banking sector in the name of bank mergers and reducing operational costs.

“Snitchers for the Troika”

 An interesting article was posted last week in news portal “Snitchers for the Troika”. A summary below:

“Known business interests, even at institutional level, such as business associations and federations, rushed to exploit the situation and overturn the labour rights and the cost of manpower working in the private sector.

Through well-known law firms, consulting firms, entrepreneurs -either isolated or collectively-“besieged” the Troika with texts, ideas and reports on the legal framework applicable to the labor market in order to achieve their goals.

Already from the very first moment Greece sought the aid of support mechanism of IMF/EU/ECB there has been a series of moves by entrepreneurs, and institutional representatives of the business world who ‘bombarded’ the Troika with requests and complaints about the state of labour relations in Greece.

A known lawyer explains under conditions of anonymity the method he used to “convince” the Troika in order to promote the interests of his client. By hiding the true conditions and exaggerating.

“They [“the interests”] did not tell the Troika that the benefits in the state-run enterprises (DEKO), which actually belong to the private sector, were provided in order to make salaries more human and decent.”

“They [“the interests] were focusing on widespread tax evasion while at the same time they didn’t say a word about the legal tax avoidance of the affluent society classes. Like villas in the northern suburbs of Athens, for example, that they belong to off-shore companies that are exempted from taxes. And that the villa owner ‘rents’ the villa benefiting from tax deductions”.

 As to why labour unions did not apply to cancel taxation of low annual incomes (below 6,000 euro is declared as ‘poverty’ by the EU) that’s another story…
PS As masks are falling day by day, I wonder how legalized can a government be elected to protect the interests of the people but they shamelessly protect the interests of the …big interests (Don’t tell me, you’re shocked lol)



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  1. greece has a young democracy i have tried in vain to read anything on the real story of what happened when the junta were overthrown
    we have just ‘buried’ our traditional self serving administration
    greece will never make progress until you get rid of your legacy of self servers

    • It’s a bit rich accusing Greece of suffering from the effects of “self servers”. I suppose you mean by “getting rid of them” in the same way as we in Ireland got rid of FF and replaced it by its twin Fine Gael? With Labour being the lambs for the slaughter instead of the Greens?
      Nobody will ever make progress until it becomes the norm that people work together to build a society rather than work like ants to build an economy. As long as the Neo-Capitalist doctrine is embraced, any economy will always serve the few, at the expense of the many. That much is abundantly clear from world wide developments over the last 10 years or so.
      As for administration, it is a necessary part of society, but the administration, or civil service, needs to be transformed in exactly that, a SERVICE. It cannot continue to be allowed to be an untouchable position of power, be it through protectionism in terms of watertight labour laws or protectionism through insanities like the “Croke Park Agreement”.
      These 2 necessities (service and society first) require a change of perception in society. That change is the uncoupling of wealth from power. As long as we, the many, see the wealthy few as having “power”, we are going nowhere. They do not have that power because of what they possess, they have that power because we give it to them. We can also remove it…