GSEE abstains from social dialogue on taxation
In February 1999, the GSEE trade union confederation announced that it would not participate in a process of social dialogue on tax reform, organised by the Greek government. However, the decision was only narrowly approved by the GSEE leadership.
At a meeting of the executive committee of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) held on 24 February 1999, a resolution was passed by a vote of 23 to 22 to abstain from the process of social dialogue on reform of the system of taxation, which has been organised by the government. The decision was announced in press release on the same day, and this was the first time in recent years that such a statement had been issued without the participation of PASKE, the faction within GSEE which supports the ruling PASOK socialist party.
The GSEE statement claims that "the government is going ahead with a process of social dialogue which constitutes a new edition of what the labour side views as the bankrupt, perfunctory and unacceptable process of social dialogue carried out on the issues of development, competitiveness and employment" (this process occurred during 1997 - GR9711138F). It also alleges that the government is responsible not only for engaging in this process for reasons of expediency but also for breaking its commitments, mainly with regard to the untaxed income allowance for wage earners (GR9812113N). GSEE also claims that, through its attitude, the government is trying to steer the labour movement towards accepting a number of regulations of a partial nature and away from the need to promote a radical tax reform - for which the labour movement has been fighting for years - thus essentially maintaining the existing taxation system, which is considered counter to the popular interest.
In expressing its objections and opposition, the GSEE said that it "is not going to legitimise this aim of the government by taking part; it will abstain from this specific process, design a militant programme of action aimed at radical tax reform, take steps to ensure that a genuine dialogue develops between workers and society on acceptance of the aims of the labour movement and demand their implementation by the government." In this framework, the GSEE called on trade union activists to hold a mass protest on 25 February, outside the General State Accounts Office, where the social dialogue was due to begin.
It should be noted that the president of the GSEE expressed his disagreement with the above decision not to participate, stressing that the GSEE, as an institutional body representing workers, ought to participate in all dialogue processes. However, he stated that he will respect the decision of the majority.