Greece: Recent Developments in Work Organisation in the EU 27 Member States and Norway

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Work organisation,
  • Working conditions,
  • Published on: 24 Listopad 2011



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Greece
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Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

In Greece, there is no nation-wide survey using a specific methodology and being conducted in a periodical manner for the subject of work organisation. There is however a number of sectoral studies looking at changes in work organisation aspects related to the introduction of new information and communication technologies, work contents, education and skills. Apart from their participation in the establishment, development and certification of job profiles, social partners’ initiatives do not seem to cover issues directly related to work organisation issues.

Block 1: Existing main sources of information dealing with the issue of work organisation at national level and its relation with working conditions, innovation and productivity

  • Are there national statistical sources (censuses, special surveys, other surveys, etc) that analyse the issue of work organisation or are used for analysing the issue of work organisation in your country?. If so, identify them and explain the way work organisation types are defined and asked in these surveys.

As regards the matter of work organization, there is no nation-wide tool using a specific methodology to study this matter or aspects related to it.

  • Are there any other main sources of information published after mid-2000s that may provide valuable information on the issue (i.e. ad-hoc studies, sectoral studies, administrative reports, articles, published case studies, etc). If so, identify them.

After 2000 some sectoral studies have been occasionally conducted, usually using data from the Labour Force Survey, carried out by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ΕLSTAT), and applying the method of interviews and empirical observation. Some examples of those studies are:

  • Κ. Fotinopoulou, Questions of technology, work organization, specialization and training at the PETROLA oil refinery, a study assigned by the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE) in the context of ADAPT project, December 2000 in P. Linardos-Rylmon (scientific responsible), New technologies, work organization and formation of specialties, INE/GSEE, 2003 (in Greek).

  • T. Spyropoulou, Specialization and training at the mass tourism sector, INE/GSEE, in P. Linardos-Rylmon (scientific responsible), New technologies, work organization and formation of specialties, INE/GSEE, 2003 (in Greek).

  • I. Keramidou, New technologies, flexible forms of employment and changes in work organization, in multi-national petroleum trading companies, INE/GSEE, January 2001 (in Greek) in P. Linardos-Rylmon (scientific responsible), New technologies, work organization and formation of specialties, INE/GSEE, 2003 (in Greek).

  • Hellenic Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE), Banking sector executives in Greece: Conditions of pay and work, role and prospects, 2001 (in English).

  • P. Linardos-Rylmon, Journalism vis-à-vis the knowledge-based society, intervention guidelines for the protection of information and the protection of journalism, INE/GSEE, February 2003.

  • P. Linardos-Rylmon (scientific responsible), New technologies, work organization and formation of specialties, INE/GSEE, 2003 (in Greek).

  • ΟΤΟΕ, National report of “Communicate” European project, April 2007 (in Greek).

  • Secretariat of Industrial Relations and Contracts of the Hellenic Federation of Bank Employee Unions (GESS), Personal Objectives and Work Stress, 2008 (in Greek).

  • P. Linardos-Rylmon, Knowledge, work and collective action, INE/GSEE, Labour Institute’s Notebooks, Issue n. 32, May 2010 (in Greek).

However, the study which is of most interest because it refers to the whole national economy is:

S. P. Gavroglou / P. Linardos-Rylmon / G. Petraki, The transformation of work? A quantitative evaluation of change in work in Greece, WORKS Project, May 2008 (in English).

Moreover, the Work Organisation and Restructuring in the Knowledge Society (WORKS) project was launched in June 2005 and covered Greece. This project, funded by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme, was aimed at studying the changes in work in the knowledge-based society through the analysis of new forms of work organisations.

Indicative of the lack of information and research in Greece on the matter is, that the bibliography which was used for the Greek report of the Works Project is almost exclusively foreign.

  • Have there been any innovations introduced/expected in the existing national statistical sources intended to take into account the issue of work organisation in your country?

No.

Block 2: Identify existing patterns of work organisation at national level and recent evolution in time

  • Describe existing patterns of work organisation at national aggregated level (according to existing used national definitions) and their associated characteristics per pattern, based on the existing information. Provide information on the (quantitative and qualitative) importance of the different forms of these work organisations in the national context. In order to reflect the workplace practices, NCs are also requested to provide information on different work organisation-related-items, based on the national Working Conditions surveys that stress the main changes that have taken place in the last 5-7 years (i.e. higher/lower presence of team work; higher/lower presence of autonomy at work; higher/lower presence of job rotation; higher/lower assistance from colleagues or hierarchy; higher/lower task complexity; higher/lower degree of learning, higher/lower problem solving capacity, etc), stressing existing differences by sectors and enterprise sizes, and identifying the main reasons behind these changes.

The paper of Arundel, Lorenz, Lundvall and Valeyre (Arundel A., Lorenz E., Lundvall B.-A. & Valeyre A. (2006), ‘The organisation of work and innovative performance: a comparison of the EU-15’, Working Paper No 06-14, DRUID) gives information about the work organization forms in 15 countries, estimating that in Greece employees are distributed between organizational categories as follows: discretionary learning 18.7 per cent (39.1 per cent in EU15), lean production 25.6 per cent (28.2 per cent in EU15), Taylorist organization 28 per cent (EU15, 13.6 per cent) and traditional organization 27.7 per cent (19.1 per cent in EU15).

At national level, as aforementioned, there are no surveys which use the methodology requested here. However, the sectoral studies mentioned above, come to some very interesting conclusions.

K. Fotinopoulou’s field survey about new technology and specialisations in refining plants describes, mainly, the development of the production operator’s work content, due to the continuous introduction of digital technology, which is characterized by the expansion of the knowledge required as well as of the specialized person’s responsibility. At the same time, though, it concludes that the management does not express any intention to acknowledge that change, as the petitions of employees for the recognition of the professional characteristics of that specialisation and, therefore, of the respective professional rights are not accepted. It is also concludes that the educational system and also the vocational training system failed to stress that an educational process that offers basic knowledge and facilitate and accelerate the operators’ professional advancement is required.

The survey of T. Spyropoulou about the specialisations and the educational requirements of activities in the context of mass tourism, points out that the changes in the work content as regards those services are only to a very small degree due to the introduction of new technology. They are mostly due to the diversification and the upgrading of the services, because of the new needs of the customers, thus leading to an upgrading of the employees’ knowledge. However, as regards also those activities, the educational system has not been actively adapted to developments and has not been able to monitor those changes in specialisations. But even the enterprises that implement a personnel upgrading policy turn the need for unskilled or semiskilled personnel into an advantage, so as to contain the labour cost and, at the same time, deal with the question of personnel’s skills, in terms of personal abilities, thus getting round the needs for training and experience.

Keramidou’s survey about the oil products trade sector, shows how the introduction of information and communications technology in that sector, in combination with the restructuring, at international level, of multinational enterprises, has led to a personnel discrimination between a basic core of permanent employees and those who are employed by independent or dependent contractors, under strongly diversified conditions in terms of remuneration, insurance and employment stability. In the same manner in which the possibilities offered by new technology are not always turned into advantages for upgrading the knowledge and position of all the employees in an enterprise, the use of that technology may be combined with corporate policies aiming at developing flexibility and containing labour cost by all means.

In the summer of 2002, ESIEA (the Union of Athens Daily Newspapers Journalists) commissioned the Labour Institute to produce a report about the journalist’s profession. The final document was publicly presented in February 2003. The main conclusion was that there is an ever increasing possibility of journalism being practiced by journalists who have a sense of responsibility towards the readers, listeners or television viewers, a high level of education, knowledge of the matter they are engaged in and access to written or electronic information, but the organizational and cognitive choices of the sector’s enterprises result in a failure to turn that possibility to advantage. The content of journalism (especially news coverage) depends more and more on managerial orders and on the relations with specified sources of information. There is a serious shortfall on education, retraining or training, as private, low-level schools and Institutes of Professional Training flourish and a system for matching the profession’s requirements with the curriculums has not been established. Finally, the flexible employment relations and the individualized employment contracts devitalize individual or collective action in terms of the employment and working conditions. According to the study, this degradation of cognitive skills and possibilities has led, consequently, to a degradation of the journalistic product.

  • Identify (if possible), the recent evolution in time of work organisation patterns in your country (last 5-7 years). Pay special attention to the effects derived from the current economic crisis.

According to the conclusions of the national report entitled: “The transformation of work? A quantitative evaluation of change in work in Greece” that was conducted in the context of WORKS Project (2008), work complexity, which in case of Greece is at the lowest level within the EU15 framework, has been increasing during the period 2000-2005. This means that changes took place in work organization favouring greater responsibility of workers and more important knowledge of production or other activities. Independence in time allocation, which can be considered as an indication of low learning activity within the firms, has been decreasing from the highest level (compared to the EU15 average) in the period 1995-2005, indicating that forms of work organization favouring learning are becoming more important.

  • Identify existing differences in work organisation patterns accordingly to sector and company size considerations, as well as (if possible) recent changes in these patterns.

No relevant information.

  • Identify work organisation patterns associated with high performance working environments/enterprises.

No relevant information.

  • Identify the main drivers for change or barriers to change underpinning these recent developments in work organisation in the country, paying special attention to the effects derived from the current economic crisis.

No relevant information.

  • Partners are requested to identify one/the most dynamic national economic sector in terms of work organisation changes and for whom information is available. For this selected economic sector, NCs are requested to provide information on existing predominant work organisation patterns in this sector, as well as recent trends and changes in the last 5-7 years and reasons behind these changes. Also, and in the case the selected economic sector is a non-tertiary one, NCs are requested to provide some general information on recent trends and changes in work organisation patterns in the last 5-7 years and reasons behind these changes in any tertiary sector selected by each NC (i.e. consultancy services, HORECA, consultancy services, call centres, etc).

No relevant information.

Block 3: Associated effects of identified different forms of work organisation and work organisation-related items on working conditions

  • Identify associated effects of different existing patterns of work organisation and work organisation-related items on working conditions (i.e. training, skills and employability; health, safety and well-being; working time and work-life balance). Particular elements to be analysed may include stress, job satisfaction, work life balance, workloads and learning

According to the conclusions of the national report entitled “The transformation of work? A quantitative evaluation of change in work in Greece” that was conducted in the context of Works Project (2008), the improvement of working conditions observed in Greece is starting from the lowest level within the EU15. The levels of market-driven and technology-driven work intensity indicate that the evolution of working conditions is still determined to an important degree by the mechanization of production, but there is also an increasing influence of the market around the EU15 average. There is an overall decrease of workers dissatisfaction, although the improvement of working conditions is accompanied by an increase of work intensity.

Satisfaction with work is possibly affected by one’s labour market environment, mainly the level of unemployment, which has remained at relatively high levels in Greece during the past decade; one may report being satisfied with work simply because jobs are scarce. It should also be noted that since the percentage of salary earners in the workforce is only around 60%, the pressure of an unemployment rate of 9% on that category is much higher than it would be in economies with a higher share of salary earners.

  • Identify (possible) changes in working conditions associated to each work organisation pattern in the last 5-7 years, as well as the main reasons underpinning these changes

No relevant information.

  • Partners are requested to provide information focused on the existing relationship between predominant work organisation patterns and existing working conditions in the economic sector selected in previous section.

No relevant information.

Block 4: Social partners’ position with regard to the issue of work organisation patterns

  • Attitude/opinion of the social partners in your country on the importance of encouraging changes of work organisation in the economic tissue.

The social partners are participating to the attempt to certificate job profiles in the framework of the activities of the National Accreditation Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (EKEPIS). See more details below.

  • Main elements identified by social partners and associated with forms of work organisation, which have an impact on the improvement of working conditions and performance.

The social partners address mostly the matter of certification of job profiles and of shaping the educational system so as to address the needs of the labour market. The employer organisations address also the matter of enabling working-time flexibility.

  • Please distinguish (if possible) different views between trade unions and employers organisations.

The views between employer organisations and trade unions do not differ directly regarding the matter of work organisation, but mostly matters of working time flexibility.

  • In some countries, agreements have been signed between social partners or initiatives/programmes have been developed by employers and/or trade unions in order to support changes in work organisation for different reasons (e.g. facing the economic crisis, improvement of productivity/performance and/or working conditions). Please, describe one/two relevant agreements or initiatives with the aim of supporting changes in work organisation.

The social partners’ initiatives as regards the development of work organization in Greece concern the certification of job profiles. The related institutional framework is set forth in a decree of the Ministry of Finance dating back to 2006. According to that decree, the National Accreditation Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (EKEPIS), in order to meet the need of the accreditation of job profiles, proceeds to a call for expressions of interest for the development of job profiles. According to the call for tenders and for a time period specified in it, entities will be able to file to the EKEPIS an application for the development of a job profile.

The right to develop a job profile is granted to co-operating entities, in which the third-level employers and employees organizations that are the signatories of the National General Collective Employment Agreement, which the proposed job profile is integrated in, shall necessarily be represented. In case that the specified profession is not represented at the third level, the aforesaid cooperation scheme shall have to include an entity representing the profession and/or the specialty and/or the sector.

The co-operating entities shall develop the profile during the following stages: “Title and Definition of the Profession and/or specialty”, “Analysis of the profession and/or specialty − specifications” and shall submit proposals for the remaining three stages (“Required knowledge, skills and abilities”, “Suggested routes” and “Manners of evaluation of knowledge, skills and abilities”). Two-member groups are formed, made up of a representative of the Vocational Training and Education Organization (ΟΕΕΚ) as President and a representative of EKEPIS. Those groups will be responsible for determining the “Required knowledge, skills and abilities”, the “Suggested routes” and the “Guidelines for evaluation of knowledge, skills and abilities”. More specifically, the right to develop the contents of the horizontal skills is granted to Universities, Research and/or Scientific entities, Business Consulting Companies specialized or engaged to a significant degree in human resources development, etc. After the completion of the job profile’s development and its submission, the EKEPIS shall establish Advisory Committees for the evaluation of the submitted job profiles.

The EKEPIS Board of Directors, taking into consideration the joint introductory report of the Advisory Committee and/or Consulting Committee whenever this is deemed necessary, decides on the final certification of the job profile. If entities of the social partners have already developed job profiles that meet the terms and conditions set by this Decision, they may submit them to the EKEPIS for certification.

Commentary by the NC

NCs are requested to provide a very brief commentary on main obtained results

The professional characteristics of specialisations and the recognition of professional rights in many cases still constitute obvious requirements of effective and competitive production. In the production areas, the more important the changes effected, the greater the need for workers to be capable to assimilate them and to ensure the continuation of production and of the enterprise’s knowledge capital. Those workers must, therefore, have professional characteristics, which, moreover, have to be recognized by the State, when the responsibility they assume refers to matters that exceed the limits of the job position and expand to the safe operation of the production plant, both for the entirety of workers and for the area where the plant is located.

The surveys conducted in enterprises lead to a dual conclusion: At enterprise level there is undoubtedly a tendency to resist the promotion, let alone the recognition of professions, such resistance being in practice – also in the most efficient enterprises – accompanied by the creation – in various forms – of categories of employees which, in the enterprise’s interior, have certain professional characteristics. The sectoral research carried out in Greece shows that the correspondence between the professions that seem to be favoured by the educational system and the much sought after specialisations at production level is poor. This results in the shaping and reproducing of systems for meeting the enterprises’ needs in terms of specialisations and professions mostly in the enterprise’s interior. Therefore, such systems do not form part of a national system nor are the object of tripartite negotiations at national or sectoral level.

References

  • Arundel A., Lorenz E., Lundvall B.-A. & Valeyre A. (2006), ‘The organisation of work and innovative performance: a comparison of the EU-15’, Working Paper No 06-14, DRUID

  • P. Linardos-Rylmon (scientific responsible), New technologies, work organization and formation of specialties, INE/GSEE, 2003 (in Greek).

  • S. P. Gavroglou / P. Linardos-Rylmon / G. Petraki, The transformation of work? A quantitative evaluation of change in work in Greece, WORKS Project, May 2008 (in English).

Sofia Lampousaki, Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)

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