Trade union confederation sets out demands for 2000

Download article in original language : GR0002163NEL.DOC

In January 2000, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) invited employers' organisations to open bargaining over a new National General Collective Agreement, and set out its main demands for the agreement.

On 17 January 2000, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) sent to its employer counterparts - the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), the General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Trades (GSEVEE) and the National Confederation of Greek Traders (ESEE) - an invitation to enter into bargaining with the aim of drawing up and signing a new National General Collective Agreement.

The invitation to bargain, which also constitutes the termination of the current National General Collective Agreement, sets out in detail GSEE's whole framework of demands for determining general minimum wages and salaries of workers all over the country, as well as on other issues. GSEE's framework of economic and institutional demands for the new collective agreement does not differ significantly from that for the 1998-9 National General Collective Agreement (GR9801151N and GR9805171N). However, it also includes some new demands.

In particular, as far as economic issues are concerned, there is a demand for a cash payment of a "minimum wage allowance", aimed at achieving a real improvement of the incomes of the white-collar workers, blue-collar workers and technical staff who receive minimum pay under the National General Collective Agreement. According to GSEE, the level of pay for this group of workers, which is directly set by the National General Collective Agreement, remains unacceptably low, in spite of spectacular improvements in the country's economic indicators. GSEE claims that people receiving minimum pay under the National General Collective Agreement, along with people on low pensions, have become outcasts from the social and economic life of the country, who bear the burden of successive restrictive programmes. GSEE has not stated the amount of the allowance it is demanding for the immediate support of these groups, but has stressed that the minimum wage allowance is a basic element for the success of bargaining over the new National General Collective Agreement.

In the framework of demands for boosting employment, it is proposed that the Account for Employment and Vocational Training (LAEK) (GR9702101F) cover the insurance contributions of long-term unemployed people nearing the retirement age. Another institutional issue included in the new GSEE platform is profit-sharing. In particular, GSEE is proposing that the social partners undertake to show the feasibility of profit-sharing schemes and to support them, through enterprise-level collective bargaining, in the form of a distribution to employees of a part of companies' shares or profits. In GSEE' s view, it goes without saying that these benefits will not be included in the lawful remuneration provided for by industry-wide and occupational-level agreements and the National General Collective Agreement. In the opinion of GSEE, such systems, wherever implemented in the EU or elsewhere, promote a fairer distribution of return on capital and labour, reinforce democracy at the workplace and boost to a reasonable extent competitiveness and the quality of the enterprise's products. Finally, it is noted that the social partners must make an effort to find suitable tax and insurance regulations, so as to encourage profit-sharing schemes and avoid undue burdens or adverse consequences for workers and their insurance funds.

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