Arbitration improves pay and conditions in security services sector

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A decision made in October 1997 by the Mediation and Arbitration Service (OMED) regulates wages and working conditions more favourably throughout Greece for workers in enterprises providing security services, an increasingly important branch of the services sector.

On 13 October 1997, a settlement was reached in the dispute between the Confederation of Greek Private Employees (OIYE) and the employers' organisations, the Union of Security Companies (ENEA) and the Association of Greek Security Enterprises. The dispute had concerned the drafting of a collective agreement or the provision of an arbitration decision to regulate pay and labour conditions in enterprises providing security services.

The dispute between employees and employers had begun in March 1994 with the signing of a collective labour agreement on pay and labour conditions in the services sector across the whole of Greece. The extension of this agreement by the Ministry of Labour to all areas of the services sector sparked a strong protest from employers in enterprises providing security services. According to the employers' side, this agreement is not representative of their particular area of the sector, since its provisions are too general and do not apply to workers in their type of enterprise. The employers also maintain that acceptance of the agreement would seriously damage enterprises in their area of the sector, as it awards higher wages than those provided by the National General Collective Agreement on which the wages of security service workers are based.

Following the employers' persistent refusal to accept the conditions provided for in the 1994 collective agreement and later in a 1996 arbitration decision, the OIYE invited enterprises in the security systems subsector to negotiate their own national sectoral labour agreement for 1996-7. After a series of meetings and some hard bargaining, the two sides failed to reach an agreement. Then, in June 1997 the OIYE applied to the OMED requesting mediation services with a view to settling the dispute. Once again, the OMED proposal was rejected by the employers' side, on the grounds that it did not cover all the enterprises in the subsector. As a result, settlement of the dispute was referred to arbitration, resulting in arbitration decision No. 58/1997 issued on 13 October 1997. According to the decision, which is effective retrospectively from 17 June 1997, the day after the request for arbitration was submitted, workers in enterprises providing security services and security systems throughout the country will no longer be paid on the basis of the National General Collective Agreement, but on the basis of the new agreement for similar occupations which covers all specialisms in the subsector and provides for significantly more favourable conditions of pay and work.

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