Softex workers laid off

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In April 2000, 430 workers were temporarily laid off at Athenian Paper Mills (Softex) plant in Drama, Greece, following the takeover of the company. The lay-offs led to legal action and a top-level tripartite meeting between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, company management and trade unions.

The management of a cartel which has taken over Athenian Paper Mills (Softex) announced on 11 April 2000 that all 430 workers employed at the Drama plant would be temporarily laid off from 17 April until 17 May. According to management at Softex, the company has been forced to take this decision because of lack of funds, mainly brought about by the failure of the Textbook Publications Organisation (OEVD) to pay off the GRD 1.8 billion it owes to Softex for supplies of paper. However, the workers feel that the management decision is a move to force OEVD to pay off its debt, since the firm has laid off the workforce for the same reason once before during the past seven months.

On 19 April, the company-level trade union and the Drama Labour Centre took provisional protective measures to have the decision declared invalid and prevent its implementation. In addition, on 17 April a tripartite meeting was held at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to discuss this issue. Called by the Greek General Confederation of Labour, (GSEE), the meeting was attended by the new Minister. Mr Giannitsis, and the president of the GSEE. The GSEE president and the representatives of the company-level union demanded immediate withdrawal of the lay-offs and observance of the entire agreement regarding the sale of the enterprise by the new owners, which provides for preservation of existing jobs for three years. The Minister of Labour, who was in agreement with the workers' representatives on this issue, made appropriate recommendations to the representatives of management. Another GSEE demand was that the company taking over Softex should clarify its business plans within two months at most, alongside withdrawal of the lay-offs, and that all the terms of sale be adhered to. The representatives of management, however, avoided making any specific statements.

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