Conflicts & War

Thousands march across Greece against government’s labor bill

Athens, Sep 21 (EFE). – Thousands of people demonstrated on Thursday in major cities across Greece against a labor bill proposed by the government that would allow companies to impose a sixth working day and change employees’ schedules to adapt them to production needs.

More than 6,000 people, according to the police, marched in the center of Athens as part of a 24-hour strike called by the Confederation of civil servants’ trade unions (ADEDY) that brought together transport and health care workers, teachers and professors.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa and other cities in the country.

In Athens, protesters carried banners that read “We will not become modern slaves” and “the eight-hour day was and will be a workers’ achievement.”

The reform proposed by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government would allow workers to have a second job for a maximum of five hours per day, alongside their main activity of eight hours a day.

Companies in various sectors could impose a sixth working day for which workers would receive an additional 40% on the daily salary.

The bill also includes “on-call” contracts for workers who will have no fixed hours and will work under their employer’s requirements, as long as they are notified at least 24 hours in advance.

“This law eliminates the last remaining labor rights in the country and legalizes six days of work. These measures are very dangerous,” said Dimitris Govas, a protester who works in a bookstore, adding that the underground economy and undeclared overtime are already a “common practice” in Greece.

The head of Greece’s main opposition Syriza party, Sokratis Famelos, and the Communist Party secretary general, Dimitris Kutsubas, also took part in the march.

Syriza said in a statement that the government is moving towards the full deregulation of fundamental labor rights, such as the five-day and eight-hour workday to benefit business interests.

On Thursday, the bill was to be put for vote in the parliament, where Mitsotakis’ conservative New Democracy holds an absolute majority after June’s elections, in which they won 158 of 300 seats. EFE


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