Athens, Jun 10 (EFE).- Greek unions on Thursday held the first general strike since the Covid-19 pandemic began, halting public transport and a large portion of state administration services to protest the new labour reform, which they say undermines workers’ rights.
The strike was backed by both public and private unions, but stores remained open, as industrial action in the country is usually carried out through transport, schools and public offices.
High-turnout demonstrations have taken place across the country, with roughly 20,000 protesters gathering in Athens.
“The right wing government shows its true colours and reveals who it really works for and whose interests it serves, those of a small elite associated with Mr. Mitsotakis,” said former prime minister Alexis Tsipras at the Athens rally.
Under particular scrutiny is Kyriakos Mitsotakis government’s intention to make working hours more flexible, by maintaining the 40-hour work week but allowing hours to be carried out in four 10-hour shifts, or stock working hours aside to compensate with days off later on.
The government claims these options will be fully at the discretion of the employees, but unions and opposition parties argue that in practice it would only give free reign to employers already exploiting the system to not pay overtime.
The draft bill also extends permitted extra hours to 150 per year, up from the previous 90 to 120, depending on the economic sector.
Minister for Labour Kostis Hatzidakis claims the introduction of a new card to record employees’ working hours in all companies will protect workers from abusive schedules. EFE