Greece: Representativeness of the European social partner organisations – Personal services sector

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 20 Styczeń 2010



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The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the personal services sector in Greece. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

Introduction

Trade unionism in the personal services in Greece is undergoing a reform phase. The first sectoral collective agreement was signed this year and it is not yet generally applicable. Up to now, the collective agreement was a professional one. The only trade union relevant to this study is the Association of Cosmetic Company Employees with 400 members and the relevant employer association is the Pan-Hellenic Association of Industrialists and Representatives of Cosmetics and Perfumes. Furthermore, any assessment of density is not possible, due to the lack of statistical information. Thus this study provides a more extended insight on the industrial relations in this field in order to describe the industrial relations in the sector.

1. Sectoral properties

Τhe statistical data available in Greece regarding the hairdressing sector and other beauty services are very limited, because no four-digit or three-digit codification system is applied. The data provided by the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE) pertain to code 930 –other service activities. For specific information, one may contact the representatives of employees/employers.

Beauty care

The beauty care and slimming sector first emerged in the form of organised salons approximately 42 years ago. Multipurpose centres have been developing since the mid 1980s, focusing mainly on beauty care. The sector’s growth reached its peak between 1993and 1997. A major characteristic of the sector is the existence of a great number of small-sized individual companies serving the local market. There are few slimming and beauty care chains. However, such chains tend to dominate the sector either through branches or franchising,.

Hairstyling

There are many small-sized individual companies offering mainly hairstyling services in the local markets. The number of chains offering hairstyling services is very limited and, either through branches or franchising, they mainly cover the area of Attica. According to statements made by the sector’s representatives, it is estimated that there are a total of 15.000 small-sized and large-sized companies active in Greece.

Table 1: Data on sector 930 – other service activities
  1995*** 2006****
Number of employers 3,250 6,208
Aggregate employment* 38,352***** 51,914*****
Male employment* 13,684 13,890
Female employment* 24,668 38,024
Aggregate employees 13,908 27,013
Male employees 2,803 5,572
Female employees 11,105 21,441
Aggregate sectoral employment as a % of total employment in the economy 1.0% 1.17%
Aggregate sectoral employees as a % of total employment in the economy 0.68% 0.95%

Notes: **The above data do not refer to codification based on NACE 93.02, but to a three-digit codification based on code 930. There is as yet no four-digit codification in Greece. This means that the above-mentioned statistical representation is not confined exclusively to the subject of the research, but it extends to all sectors under NACE 93.00-other service activities.

*** In 1995, the survey was conducted once, in spring.

**** The data pertain to the second quarter of 2006.

***** Self-employed persons with or without personnel, salaried employees and assistants in family undertakings are included.

Source: National Statistical Service (ESYE), Labour Force Survey (2008)

Table 2 – Beauty care sector
  1995 2006
Number of employers 4 multipurpose centre chains approx. 1,100 beauty salons 15 multipurpose centre chains 230 day spa 62 thalassotherapy centres 57 medical centres 2,000 beauty salons 1,500 beauty centres
Aggregate employment Approx. 4,000** Approx. 17,000
Male employment Approx. 3.0% Approx. 7.0%
Female employment Approx. 97.0% Approx. 93.0%
Aggregate employees Approx. 500 Approx. 8,000
Male employees Approx. 3.0% Approx. 7.0%
Female employees Approx. 97.0% Approx. 93.0%
Aggregate sectoral employment as a % of total employment in the economy 0.10% 0.38%
Aggregate sectoral employees as a % of the total number of employees in the economy 0.024% 0.28%

Notes: Self-employed persons with or without personnel, salaried employees and assistants in family undertakings are included.

Source: Estimations by the Greek Association of Beauticians

According to estimates of the representative of the Highest Artistic Trade Union Federation of Owners of Barber Shops and Hairstyling Salons in Greece (ASKOKKE), there are now approximately a total of 15,000 hairstyling companies throughout Greece, employing approximately 35,000 persons (hairstylists, assistants, manicurists, pedicurists, etc.).

2. The sector’s trade unions and employer associations

2a Data on the trade unions

In Greece, participation of employees in trade unions is not obligatory.

Beauty care

The only trade union relevant to this study is the Association of Cosmetic Company Employees (Σωματείο Εργαζομένων στις Επιχειρήσεις Καλλυντικών). However, other organisations active in the sector are described.

The Greek Association of Beauticians (Σωματείο Αισθητικών Ελλάδας, SAE) was founded in 1975 and now has 2,300 members. It is an association of professionals. Membership is open to beauticians whose employment is based on dependent labour agreements. Based on available data, it is impossible to estimate the union density, since the data of Table 2 on the number of employees include all professions related to beauty – well-being care companies and not only the beauty care profession (which means that they also include physicians, physiotherapists, dieticians, hairstylists, receptionists, clerks, etc., in addition to beauticians).

SAE used to sign on an annual or biannual basis a Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) on the payment and employment terms of beauty consultants employed in cosmetics companies throughout the country’ for professionals in the same profession. On the employer’s side, the contracting party was the Pan-Hellenic Association of Industrialists and Representatives of Cosmetics and Perfumes (Πανελλήνιος Σύνδεσμος Βιομηχανιών Αρωμάτων και Καλλυντικών, PSVAK). Each time, the CEA was declared generally obligatory based on a relevant decision made by the Minister of Employment. The latest agreement was signed in 2006 and it expired at the end of 2007. Ever since, no negotiations have taken place in order to sign a new CEA, since SAE is going through a reorganisation process.

In recent years the beauty – well-being care sector has rapidly developed, as new areas of specializations appear, and the number of undertakings providing personal care services is rising sharply. As a result, it is impossible for the SAE (as a professional association) to cover the employees of the entire sector and it is difficult to declare the CEA as generally obligatory since the representativeness of PSVAK is questioned (in Greece, a condition for declaring a CEA as generally obligatory is that the agreement should already bind employers employing 51% of the sector’s or the profession’s employees). Thus, SAE took the initiative to encourage the creation of more specialised associations and to gradually direct its members towards these associations pending its dissolution. Within the framework of this reorganisation procedure, three sectoral and three intra-company associations have been founded in the last three years. These associations are:

  • The sectoral Association of Beauty Care and Slimming Centre Employees which now has 650 members. This association was founded approximately three years ago and it has not signed a sectoral CEA, because there is no corresponding employers’ association. According to statements made by a SAE representative, there was a corresponding employers’ association in the past, the Association of Beauty Care and Slimming Centre Owners, which has become inactive. However, efforts are being made to revive it.
  • The sectoral Association of Cosmetic Company Employees (Σωματείο Εργαζομένων στις Επιχειρήσεις Καλλυντικών), has 400 members today. This association was founded approximately one year ago and this year it signed the first sectoral Collective Employment Agreement ‘on the payment and employment terms of persons working as beauty consultants for cosmetic companies’. On the employer’s side, the contract is signed by PSVAK. The CEA is biannual and it includes provisions on salaries (basic salary, benefits) and institutional issues (holidays, working hours, breaks).
  • The sectoral - local Association of Cosmetic Company Employees in Northern Greece, has 270 members.

The formal demarcation of membership domain is private-sector employees.

Approximately 99% of the associations’ members are female. According to the employees’ representative, a fundamental criterion for their inclusion in the trade union movement is primarily their interest in receiving professional information (seminars, expositions, etc.) and secondarily labour issues.

The relations between different associations are not competitive and according to their statutes their domains do not overlap, because they refer to different sub-sectors of the personal services sector. Every three months, the boards of directors of all associations hold a common meeting at offices offered to them by Federation of Private Employees in Greece (Ομοσπονδία Ιδιωτικών Υπαλλήλων Ελλάδας, ΟΙΥΕ) for this purpose.

At a national level, these associations are members of the Federation of Private Employees in Greece (Ομοσπονδία Ιδιωτικών Υπαλλήλων Ελλάδας, OIYE), which is a second-level trade union organization, and of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (Γενική Συνομοσπονδία Εργατών Ελλάδας, GSEE), which is a third-level trade union organization. At a European level, they are members of UNI EUROPA, in the Hair and Beauty Care Sector.

Due to the limited and fragmentary statistics available, it is impossible to estimate union density.

Hairstyling

There is no trade union for the employees working in the hairstyling sector and no sectoral CEA is signed.

2b Data on the employer associations

In Greece, participation of employers in trade unions is not obligatory.

The only employers association relevant to this study is PSVAK which according to its statutes covers only the beauty industry and not hairstyling.

Beauty care

The employers’ association that covers undertakings producing cosmetics and perfumes is the Pan-Hellenic Association of Industrialists and Representatives of Cosmetics and Perfumes (PSVAK). PSVAK represents 66 undertakings covering approximately 90% of the cosmetics market in Greece. PSVAK is a member of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (Σύνδεσμος Επιχειρήσεων και Βιομηχανιών, SEV), which is a third-level employers’ organization, while at a European level, it is a member of COLIPΑ. The members of the Association are classified into different groups only based on their financial contribution which depends on their turnover.

This year, PSVAK signed for the first time a Collective Employment Agreement ‘on the payment and employment terms for beauty consultants employed in cosmetics companies’. On the employees’ side, the contract was signed by the Association of Employees in Cosmetics and Perfume Undertakings. The CEA is biannual and it includes provisions on salaries (basic salary, benefits) and institutional issues (holidays, working hours, breaks). Until 2006, PSVAK used to sign on an annual or biannual basis a professional Collective Employment Agreement ‘on the payment and employment terms of beauty consultants employed in cosmetics companies throughout the country’. SAE was the contracting party on the employers’ side.

Currently there is no employers’ organisation in the beauty care and slimming sector, although efforts are being made to remedy this situation (see above).

Hairstyling

The employers’ organisation in the hairstyling sector is the Higher Artistic Trade Union Federation of Owners of Barber Shops and Hairstyling Salons in Greece (Ανώτατη Καλλιτεχνική Ομοσπονδία Καταστηματαρχών Κουρέων Κομμοτών Ελλάδας, ASKOKKE). ASKOKKE is a second-level trade union of employers and its members are approximately 70 first-level associations, 60 of them active, according to the ASKOKKE representative, since they participate in elections, while the rest of them are inactive. These first-level associations are sectoral-local.

At a national level, these first-level associations and ASKOKKE are members of the General Confederation of Professional Craftsmen and Traders in Greece (Γενική Συνομοσπονδία Επαγγελματιών Βιοτεχνών Εμπόρων Ελλάδας, GSEΕVEE), which is a third-level employers’ organization. At an international level, they are members of OMC Coiffure.

There are no cumulative data on the number of the associations’ member companies and on the number of their employees. Due to the lack of statistics, it is impossible to make any estimate as to density.

However, according to estimates made by the ASKOKKE representative, there are now approximately 15,000 hairstyling salons throughout Greece, employing approximately 35,000 persons (hairstylists, assistants, manicurists, etc.).

No CEA is signed in the hairstyling sector, since there are no employees’ trade unions. According to the ASKOKKE representative, this is because the sector is extremely fragmented, consisting mainly of small and family owned undertakings. Furthermore, the mobility rate of employees is high, not only from undertaking to undertaking but also from salaried work to self-employment. Consequently, such employees cannot be easily organised.

3. Inter-associational relationships

As referred to above, trade unions of employees working in the beauty care sector are going through a process of reorganization under the co-ordination and initiative of SAE. According to a representative, SAE supports the operation and development of six new associations (three sectoral and three intra-company associations) which have been founded in the last three years, and it now refrains from collective negotiation. Inter-association relations are characterised by close cooperation, since the associations’ boards of directors hold regular joint meetings in offices provided for this purpose by OIYE. SAE is trying to direct its members to other associations, aiming at its own final dissolution. Among the new associations, the Association of Employees in Cosmetics Companies, which signs a sectoral CEA, has had the fastest growth. Though the domains of the sectoral trade unions refer to the same sector according to NACE classification, their domains according to their statutes do not overlap, because they refer to employees of different type of enterprises.

On the employer side, there is no competition either at a level of trade unions that are party to a sectoral collective employment agreement, since their fields of activity are not identical.

4. The system of collective bargaining

The professional CEA ‘on the payment and employment terms of beauty consultants working in cosmetics companies throughout the country’ was came into effect in 2006. This agreement was signed by SAE on behalf of the employees and by PSVAK on behalf of the employers. For the purposes of the CEA, a beautician is the employee who deals with a) the promotion or sale of specialized cosmetic products, b) the beautification of the face and the body (make up), c) the care of the human body and face through the application of natural and technical means, d) the provision of training and education relating to beautician’s profession, as described above. The CEA expired at the end of 2007. As with previous CEAs, this CEA too was of temporary duration. After its expiry, its regulatory terms became terms of the individual employment contracts of the employees that it used to cover. Newly recruited beauticians are covered by the provisions of the EGSSE (National General Collective Employment Agreement).

The only currently applicable sectoral CEA is the 2008 CEA ’on the payment and employment terms of employees working in cosmetics companies as beauty consultants’, signed by the Association of Employees in Cosmetics Companies on behalf of the employees and by the PSVAK on behalf of the employers. This CEA pertains to employees of cosmetics companies throughout the country — which are PSVAK member — who work as beauty consultants. For the purposes of this CEA, a beautician (either holding a degree or based on experience) is a person who deals with a) the promotion or sale of specialised cosmetic products or/and b) the beautification of the face. It has not been declared generally obligatory yet, but this is bound to occur after summer.

No CEA has been signed in the hairstyling sector. Thus, the EGSSE is valid and applicable.

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

The organisations of employees and employers participate in the profession certification procedure, which is held by the Vocational Training Organization of the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. The candidates for the certification of professional skills are examined by the relevant committee at the end of each academic year. Sometimes they are also invited by the competent Ministry, within the framework of committees on occupational safety and health issues or other for regarding the upgrading of professional skills.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

In Greek law, the ability to conclude CEAs is not granted to all trade unions, only to the most representative ones. The criterion for representativeness is the number of an association’s members and in particular, the number of the members who voted in the most recent election for the trade union’s leadership. At the same time, the law introduces the numerus clausus system in order to recognize representativeness: only one trade union per sector, company or profession can be recognised as the most representative. However, different trade unions in the same company, sector or profession, which are not allowed to conclude a CEA, are actually allowed to join in negotiations affecting them. In this case, no issue of representativeness arises for any trade union, firstly because SAE is a professional association and secondly because the reference fields of the Association of Employees in Beauty Care and Slimming Centres, the sectoral Association of Employees in Cosmetics Companies and the Association of Employees in Cosmetics Companies in Northern Greece are not identical.

As regards employers, any employer employing at least 50 employees may conclude a CEA.

7. Commentary

The main characteristic of the representativeness of trade unions and employer associations on the personal services sector are:

  • The trade unions and employer organisations are not operating for the whole sector in terms of NACE 93.02, but there are different organisations for the hairdressing services and for the other beauty treatment services, i.e. in terms of unionism ‘hairdressing’ and ‘other beauty treatment’ are considered to be different sectors. Even within the sub-sector ‘other beauty treatment’ there are different sectoral unions, whose domains do not overlap, because according to their statutes, they refer to different domain of employees. This is a common phaenomenon of Greek unionism, which is characterised by splintering.
  • Until recently, the most important Collective Agreement was not a sectoral one, but a professional one. For three years the trade unions have been readjusting, in order to organise on a sectoral basis.

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

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