Controversial new labour laws set to shake up working life in Greece | Greece

Greece is set for the largest shake-up of working life in many years after its pro-business authorities sought to model parliament’s passage of controversial labour laws as a recent begin for a nation as soon as on the centre of Europe’s monetary disaster.

The passage of laws described as antediluvian by opponents and positively life-changing by supporters got here inside hours of the EU’s high government arriving in Athens on Thursday to endorse a post-pandemic restoration plan for the nation.

“Immediately I’m very pleased to announce that the fee has given the inexperienced mild for Greece’s nationwide restoration plan,” the European fee president, Ursula von der Leyen, mentioned in a speech at Athens’s historic agora because the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, stood subsequent to her. “This plan … belongs to the Greek individuals and can rework the Greek economic system.”

Dubbed Greece 2.0, the scheme foresees €30.5bn (£26bn) in grants and loans being unlocked to help 175 important investments in areas starting from the atmosphere to digital reform.

The jubilant scenes had been in stark distinction to the strikes, demonstrations and fiery debate that had unfolded earlier than MPs late on Wednesday voted by means of labour reforms likened by the veteran commerce unionist Grigoris Kalomiris to “Thatcherite insurance policies on steroids”. The measures embody modifications akin to permitting staff to go for an extended working day in alternate for day without work.

For Mitsotakis, a former banker bent on modernising the economic system, the office modifications are lengthy overdue. Addressing the chamber prior to 158 deputies endorsing the employment laws, he known as the reforms important, saying the invoice would convey Greece in line with the remainder of Europe by overhauling laws that dates again to a pre-internet period and aligning it with the digital age.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Ursula von der Leyen stroll collectively throughout their assembly on the historic agora in Athens. {Photograph}: Louiza Vradi/AP

The reforms additionally set guidelines on distant work and embody safeguards in opposition to sexual harassment in the office.

“The nucleus of this laws is worker-friendly, it’s deeply growth-oriented,” he advised the 300-member home, dismissing claims it could formally abolish the eight-hour working day.

Mitsotakis’s centre-right administration has confronted fierce resistance over the invoice. Opposition events have decried the reforms, arguing they roll again long-established staff’ rights in the identify of flexibility and EU diktats that erode authorized protections.

Mitsotakis is accused by critics of exploiting lockdowns imposed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic to ram the contentious invoice by means of parliament.

“You might be baptising the center ages, the Enlightenment … [with] the logic of extra work, much less pay, no safety,” mentioned the leftwing Syriza get together chief and former prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, vowing to annul the reforms if he wins the following election.

Below the laws staff can be compelled to work extra time, Tsipras mentioned, however would have to be content material with “a time off as an alternative of additional pay”. He added: “This implies working extra for much less pay and with out [job] safety.”

The centre-left Motion for Change get together described the laws as “ruthless”, claiming passage of reforms akin to paternity go away had been a fig leaf for the adoption of neoliberal insurance policies that will facilitate dismissals and stop strike motion.

“Within the face of those insurance policies any progressive citizen can not stay detached or silent,” its chief, Fofi Gennimata, mentioned. “Day off doesn’t pay the payments or holidays.”

The reforms had been additionally blasted as a transparent try to break the ability of commerce unions, with opponents citing the stipulation that enterprises, together with public utilities, proceed to run with a 3rd of “safety personnel” when strikes are known as.

“Each proper, each duty that unions have gained has been undermined,” Kalomiris advised the Guardian. “Collective work agreements have been annulled by particular person work contracts that favour employers. The eight-hour workday has been changed by 10-hour workdays with the promise of much less work on different days and extra time funds being misplaced.

“What we’re seeing, 40 years later, are Thatcherite insurance policies on steroids.”

In a nation with a vibrant custom of unions organising walkouts and protest rallies, it remained to be seen whether or not most of the measures could possibly be enforced, he warned.

“It is a nation the place unemployment formally continues to be about 15%,” he mentioned, insisting that the true determine following the pandemic was extra like 20%.

“There isn’t any manner in such a local weather that strike motion can be obstructed. We’ll use all our may to resist it.”

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