New agreement signed for banking sector

Download article in original language : GR0206102NEL.DOC

In May 2002, a new collective agreement was signed for the Greek banking sector. The two-year agreement provides for a total 8% pay increase, plus reduced working hours and increased banking hours.

On 23 May 2002, following an intense three-month period of tough bargaining, the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) and the representatives of banking employers came to an agreement on the conclusion of the new sectoral collective agreement for the banks and other equivalent or similar enterprises. The agreement, which covers more than 70% of the banking sector's workers, runs for two years, from 1 January 2002 (retrospectively) to 31 December 2003.

The final agreement was reached following mediation by Dimitrios Reppas, the Minister of Labour in the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Panelino Socialistiko Kinima, PASOK) government, whose assistance had been requested in writing by OTOE when the first round of bargaining reached an impasse (GR0204107N). It should be noted that the more left-wing parties declared themselves opposed to the agreement.

The new agreement provides for total pay increases of around 8% over the two years, to be paid in two instalments. The first instalment of 4.2% will cover the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002 and the second instalment of 3.8% will cover the period from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2003. These increases refer to basic pay (scales) on the unified pay scale for each category of staff. It was agreed that pay supplements calculated in cash and percentage terms will also be subject to similar increases (8%), as will the 'social allowances' for daycare, childbirth, children's summer camp and childcare.

Regarding the non-pay ('institutional') part of the agreement, the most important provision pertains to a change in working and banking hours. Specifically, according to article 5 of the new agreement, the working week is reduced to 37 hours from the current 38 hours 20 minutes, but banking hours are increased to 32 per week from the current 29 hours 30 minutes. The new working hours will come into effect on 1 September 2002. No agreement was reached on most of the OTOE's other institutional demands (GR0202102F).

With reference to the institutional issues, the OTOE president said that the change in working and banking hours was a particularly positive development, both for bank employees and for the public. However, he avoided making any comment on the pay part of the agreement, where the increases, which are not accompanied by a clause protecting them from any rise in inflation, do not match OTOE's initial demands. In this context, the main criticism came from the left-wing parties, which came out against the agreement. From the government side, the Minister of Labour called the agreement a 'good message' and stressed that the two years it will be in force should assure a long period of peaceful labour relations.

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