Substantial rise in unemployment - GSEE seeks emergency measures

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Following the publication of statistics indicating a sharp rise in unemployment in Greece, and government analyses of the connection between unemployment and the increased presence of immigrants, the GSEE trade union confederation has reiterated its positions on addressing rising unemployment and on dealing with economic immigrants.

On 12 July 1999, the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE) released the latest data regarding unemployment trends in Greece. These figures, which are fully in line with EUROSTAT definitions, show that in the second quarter of 1998 the unemployment rate reached 10.8%, compared with 9.6% for the same period in 1997. At the same time, the government has published analyses of the connection between unemployment and the increased presence of immigrants in Greece.

In a statement released on 14 July, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) expressed particular concern about the increase in the unemployment rate, stating that the latest ESYE data have confirmed its fears. GSEE believes that it is necessary to take immediate, effective emergency measures in both the public and private sectors. GSEE is thus seeking immediate implementation of the proposals which it submitted to the government in the framework of the 1999 National Action Plan for employment, in response to the EU Employment Guidelines (EU9810130F). GSEE believes that at the same time interventions are needed on the European and international levels, such as introduction of a "Tobin tax" on currency speculation (GR9907141N), stepped-up implementation of the decisions taken in the Amsterdam Treaty on European Union (EU9707135F), and reinforcement and improvement of Community policies. With regard to economic immigrants, GSEE states that it has played a leading part in enforcing the law regarding a census of such immigrants in Greece, and is now demanding that the relevant procedures be speeded up and completed. However, it underlines that the large number of foreign workers in Greece and the high rate of unemployment require an integrated, planned intervention, so that immigrants' residence and employment are governed by international agreements in accordance with the needs of the labour market.

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