GSEE issues demands for new National General Collective Agreement

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In December 2003, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) invited employers' organisations to open bargaining on a new National General Collective Agreement to be signed in 2004. Its main demands include an 8% increase in minimum pay and working time reductions.

On 17 December 2003, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) invited the central employers' organisations - the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Trades (GSEVEE) and National Confederation of Greek Traders (ESEE) - to begin negotiations over a new National General Collective Agreement (EGSSE) to succeed the current 2002-3 agreement (GR0204109F). The text of the invitation to bargain, which also serves to terminate the current EGSSE, sets out in detail GSEE’s framework of demands for setting national minimum pay rates, as well as for regulating other matters. GSEE’s demands focus on two basic points:

  • wage and salary increases of around 8%; and
  • reduction of weekly working time, with the ultimate goal being a 35-hour week.

GSEE's principal pay objectives are: the protection of real incomes from inflation; a gradual convergence of pay with European Union averages; a gradual reduction of the gap between minimum and average wages; and an additional pay increase based on the anticipated increase in labour productivity in 2004, and also in 2005 in the event of a two-year collective agreement. Besides increases in minimum wages and salaries, GSEE wants: an increase in the number of service-related benefit increments and in the amount of these increments; increased long-service benefits of up to 50% of pay; and equal severance pay for both blue- and white-collar workers (GR0311104T).

The main non-pay demand is to reduce the working week to 39 hours without loss of pay, thus gradually opening the way for a 35-hour week (GR0001159N). In GSEE’s view 'the 35-hour week can be put into effect immediately in certain sectors, such as capital-intensive undertakings, and by degrees in the sectors of services and other activities, so as to address the problem of unemployment.'.

GSEE’s framework of demands also includes the following:

  • an option for mothers of young children to take three months’ additional leave in lieu of the current arrangements allowing them a shorter working day;
  • protection from dismissal for fathers making use of the option of having a shorter working day to care for children;
  • a ban on dismissals, without good cause, of workers with less than five years to go until retirement;
  • pay for part-time work of not less than half of basic full-time pay;
  • combating the spread of electronic monitoring in the workplace;
  • measures on working conditions during the 2004 Olympic Games; and
  • an increase in annual paid leave to 30 days for people working six-day weeks, and to 25 days for people working five-day weeks, provided that they have been employed for five years by the same employer or for six years by any employer.

Finally, GSEE will seek to lay down in the 2004 EGSSE the labour and social insurance rights of teleworkers, in accordance with the European framework agreement on teleworking signed in July 2002 by the EU-level social partners (EU0207204F). GSEE state that implementation of the EU teleworking agreement and the recognition of teleworking as a form of work will be of significant help to enterprises and public authorities in modernising their work organisation and will also help workers to reconcile work and social life and acquire greater autonomy in performing their work.

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