GSEE withdraws temporarily from social dialogue
On 24 August 2000, Greece's GSEE trade union confederation withdrew temporarily from bilateral talks organised by the government over the latter's proposals for new policies on increasing employment and reducing unemployment. GSEE objected to the government's failure to present a detailed document on the issues concerned.
In July 2000, after announcing a set of proposals regarding new policies on increasing employment and reducing unemployment (GR0007178F), the government invited the social partners to participate in bilateral talks on nine related policy areas (GR0008179N). The first of the meetings scheduled between the government and the trade unions was held on 24 August 2000. The subject of the discussion was "utilisation of funds from the EU's third Community Support Framework". However, the meeting was cut short following the decision of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) to withdraw temporarily from the dialogue.
In GSEE' s view, its decision to walk out of the dialogue stems from the government's refusal to submit a working document on the nine themes. The union confederation wanted a document that would provide comprehensive, meaningful answers to all questions and policies regarding efforts to combat unemployment and increase employment, and had asked the government on 25 July 2000 to submit in due course a relevant text analysing the government's proposals in full. Unlike the government, GSEE came to the dialogue with a text for submission containing detailed proposals on the questions of employment, competitiveness and industrial relations. Before walking out, the GSEE president said that "the workers' side will withdraw permanently from the dialogue if it sees any surprise or roundabout moves to introduce measures to deregulate the labour market." In short, GSEE will not take part in the dialogue process if the government's positions include three points: working time flexibility imposed through one-sided managerial prerogative; an increase in the extent of part-time employment; and an increase in the upper workforce-size threshold for the legal definition of collective redundancies.
On the government side, thanks to the immediate intervention of the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Anastassios Giannitsis, the dialogue was postponed and not permanently terminated. In response to GSEE's demand, Mr Giannitsis made a commitment to submit a comprehensive text on 4 September 2000. Nevertheless, he was quick to point out that, "in the text it submits, the government will address those issues it believes to be part of the policies it wishes to pursue, and the GSEE can do as it sees fit."
The dialogue with the employers' organisations has proceeded normally and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) has committed itself to sending the government a memorandum containing its positions.