Employers propose pilot implementation of 35-hour week in banking
After several weeks of hard bargaining, conditions were still not right in April 1999 for the conclusion of a new collective agreement in the Greek banking sector. The employers' side proposed the pilot implementation of a 35-hour working week as a counter to the trade union demand for general implementation of the 35-hour week without loss of pay.
On 15 April 1999 a fourth negotiating meeting over a new sectoral agreement was held between the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) and the Association of Greek Banks. Bargaining had begun in March (GR9903117F).
Representatives of the banks first asked that the OTOE demand for a reduction of the working week to 35 hours without loss of pay be separated from the other issues in the collective agreement, through the signing a "record of agreement" to be attached to the sectoral agreement. They then proposed the pilot implementation of the 35-hour week in one branch of each bank for eight months, with implementation to be studied in combination with banking hours arrangements in the selected branches, though they were not ready to propose specific ways of doing this. The employers set the following conditions for final implementation of the measure at sector level:
- the extent and scope of the working time reduction should be seen in conjunction with the rest of Europe; and
- there should be equal terms of competition between private and state-run banks in the area of recruitment, through the abolition of Law 128, the special banking operations tax and other relevant measures.
OTOE believes that the banks have taken a first step in the direction of implementing the 35-hour week, and reserved the right to take a position in the next meeting and to state its own terms and conditions on this issue. OTOE also asked representatives of the banks to make their proposals more specific.
With regard to financial issues in the collective agreement, the employers' side proposed a two-year settlement with wage increases of: 1.4% from 1 January 1999; 1.4% from 1 July 1999; 1% from 1 January 2000; 1% from 1 July 2000; and an extra increase of 0.2% at the end of the two-year period. OTOE rejected this proposal on the grounds that it fell short of its own positions and proposals.