New banking sector agreement signed
In late June 2001, a new one-year collective agreement for the Greek banking sector was signed by employers' representatives and the OTOE trade union. The deal increases basic pay and allowances by 4.2%.
After five months of hard bargaining, the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) and the representatives of banking employers signed a new sectoral collective agreement for banks and similar institutions on 28 June 2001. The accord, covering more than 70% of the sector's workers, will be in effect for one year from 1 January 2001 (retroactively) to 31 December 2001.
With regard to economic issues, basic wages in the pay scale for each category of staff are increased by 4.2% of basic pay from 31 December 2000. The increase is effective retroactively from 1 January 2001 and covers the period from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001. It was agreed that allowances, both those expressed in cash and those expressed as a percentage of pay, will also be increased by 4.2%. There will be increases in social benefits for child daycare centres, childbirth, children's camps and childcare, for which a sectoral allowance has been introduced for the first time.
In OTOE' s view, the increase in basic wages supplements workers' incomes and at the same time protects them from inflation over the past year and that projected for 2001. In this context, and inasmuch as this is a one-year collective agreement, OTOE maintains that the 4.2% increase is adequate, although it is not in accordance with its initial demands (GR0102199N).
According to Article 5 of the new collective agreement, it has been decided to set up a six-member committee to "regulate working hours" with equal representation from the banks and OTOE, to examine bank employees' working hours and banks' opening hours, in accordance with the proposals of the two sides. This committee will be set up within a month of the conclusion of the new collective agreement. In Article 6 of the accord, it has been agreed to reduce fixed interest rates on loans for first-home buyers by 0.5% for each category of housing loan already extended. In addition, the ceiling for new housing loans for employees in the market for their first home has been increased:
- from GRD 20 million to GRD 33 million for unmarried people or married people without children; and
- from GRD 4 million to GRD 7 million in respect of each child.
According to Article 12 on "activities of the OTOE Institute of Labour", the banks covered by the agreement will contribute GRD 40 million (EUR 117,340) to OTOE Institute of Labour research/education programmes, in accordance with plans for their implementation which will be submitted to the banks in advance.
Despite the agreement, OTOE has pointed out that on the majority of non-pay ("institutional") issues, and working time in particular (OTOE had, notably, demanded a 35-hour working week), there was complete disagreement on all levels. However, in OTOE' s view, the content of the new agreement is the best possible outcome, given the strong pressure exerted by the banks and their perceived negative attitude throughout most of the bargaining.