Industrial relations in the public sector – Greece

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 10 December 2008



About
Country:
Greece
Author:
Christina Karakioulafis
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

This report presents an overview of industrial relations in the central government and public sector in Greece.

Introduction

The public sector is a major employer in Greece. Since the beginning of the 90s, the different governments have voted a series of legislative measuresregarding the public sector (as well as the central government) introducing major reforms in the industrial and employment relations' area

1. Structure of the public sector in your country

Please provide:

The definition of the public sector commonly accepted and used in your country. What are the different sectors covered (e.g. central government, local government, health sector, education, others)?

The public sector in Greece includes central and regional government, prefectorial and local government, the sectors of public health and education, state-law entities, etc. Public enterprises may be characterised as hybrids, in the sense that they are taken to mean enterprises in the broader public sector

The definition of the central government sector commonly accepted and used in your country. What are the different sectors covered?

By central government sector we usually mean the public services (ministries, etc.).

The definition of the central government sector commonly accepted and used in your country. What are the different sectors covered?

By central government sector we usually mean the public services (ministries, etc.).

Table 1

Year

Public Sector (total) *

Public Services

Private Sector

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

2003

541.283

378.645

278.226

202.947

2.124.780

1.241.850

2004

578.778

417.980

291.373

211.023

2.101.436

1.232.301

2005

556.109

409.367

276.887

206.708

2.149.734

1.266.731

* Includes: public services, state-law and private law entities or public organisations, municipalities, communes, municipal enterprises, state-owned banks, state-controlled enterprises. Involves all sectors of economic activity.

Source: National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE)/Processed by: G. Kritikidis (INE-GSEE/ADEDY)

Table 2
 

Public Sector (total) *

Year

Full-time employment

Part-time employment

Men

Women

Men

Women

2003

536.804

365.682

4.478

12.970

2004

572.693

398.011

6.090

19.967

2005

550.845

391.404

5.261

17.962

 

Public services

Year

Full-time employment

Part-time employment

Men

Women

Men

Women

2003

276.434

195.641

1.791

7.307

2004

288.863

200.202

2.512

10.821

2005

275.160

197.827

1.726

8.961

* Includes: public services, state-law and private law entities or public organisations, municipalities, communes, municipal enterprises, state-owned banks, state-controlled enterprises. Involves all sectors of economic activity.

Source: National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE)/Processed by: G. Kritikidis (INE-GSEE/ADEDY)

Please indicate whether fixed-term employment and part-time work are typical of certain organisational areas in the central government sector (for instance, top job positions rather than lower-level occupations) or group of workers (such as employees approaching retirement, new recruits, women, technicians, and the like)

Although there are no precise statistical data, the use of temporary employment (under fixed-term contracts) is particularly widespread in all the branches and departments of the public sector.

Please indicate the presence and quantitative relevance of non-standard employment relationships in the central government sector, and especially of temporary agency work and service contracts with individuals or other non-standard contractual relationships that are important in your country.

Although there are no precise statistical data on the extent of non-standard employment relationships (leasing of labour, works contracts, etc.), rather extensive use is made of such relationships.

2. Employment regulation

Public sector vs. private sector.

Do (certain) public sector employees enjoy special status compared with private sector employees?

There are important differences between the employment status of public servants and private sector employees. These differences regard both their employment status and employment rights (access to employment, wages, setting of working hours, etc.) and their trade union rights (collective bargaining, right to strike, etc.).

Do all public sector employees have the same status or are there differences between different groups of employees, as, for instance, between civil servants, clerical employees and workers?

There are also internal differences. First a distinction must be made between purely public servants and public-sector employees under private-law contracts. A second distinction may be made within the category of public servants depending on occupation and job content (e.g. doctors, teachers at different levels, members of the judiciary).

If public sector employees enjoy special status (es), please specify:

The distinctive features of (each) public sector employment status, highlighting the main differences with the status of private sector employees (and, if relevant, among the various public sector statuses). In particular, indicate whether such differences involve the rights: i) of association; ii) to bargaining collectively; iii) to strike.

Although the previous Constitution allowed the legal imposition of restrictions on the right of association for public servants (Article 12), in the revised Constitution this clause was abolished. The (revised) provisions of Law 1264/1982 (Regarding the democratisation of the trade union movement and the safeguarding of workers’ trade union freedoms) apply to both private-sector and public-sector employees. Although the current statutory framework does not prohibit the establishment of trade union organisations, there are some restrictions on the exercise of trade union rights of police employees and the permanent civilian staff and special scientific staff of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) in private-law employment relationships (when exercising their trade union rights, police employees are not allowed to overstep the boundaries determined by the particularities, the mission and especially the national and social nature of EYP and the police force, which are independent of political parties), thus leaving leeway for multiple interpretations (GR0311103F). As regards trade unionism in the armed forces, although there was a recent court ruling sanctioning the right to form trade unions, in the end a new court ruling .

Collective bargaining in the public sector is regulated by Law 2738/1999 (Collective bargaining in the public administration, permanent status for workers employed under open-ended contracts and other provisions) (GR9911155F). Its provisions apply to all salaried civil servants under public-law employment relationships, including state judicial employees, employees of public entities and first- and second-level public authorities. The right to collective bargaining for employees in a position of subordination under private law in an enterprise, undertaking or service of the private or public sector of the economy is regulated by Law 1876/1990 (Free collective bargaining and other provisions).

Public servants’ right to strike is regulated primarily by the Constitution and by Law 1264/1982 (Regarding the democratisation of the trade union movement and the safeguarding of workers’ trade union freedoms). Article 23 of the Constitution prohibits strikes of any kind by judicial employees and people serving in the security forces. In addition, the right to strike for public servants and employees of local authorities and state-law entities, as well as employees of all types of public enterprises and utilities whose operation is of vital importance for meeting basic needs of society as a whole, is governed by the specific restrictions of the law regulating it. These restrictions cannot go so far as to abolish the right to strike or prevent the lawful exercise thereof. According to the Law, the exercise of trade union rights by police officers and civilian staff of EYP may not overstep the boundaries determined by the particularities, the mission and especially the national and social nature of the police force and EYP, which are independent of political parties. Specifically, neither the trade union organizations of these categories of employees nor their members may call or take part in strikes or in any other type of manifestations by political or trade union bodies or political entities or use propaganda for or against them. Exceptions include conferences or cultural events organised by the primary or secondary trade union organisations themselves. The right to strike for public servants and employees of local authorities and state-law entities, as well as employees of all types of public enterprises and utilities whose operation is of vital importance for meeting basic needs of society as a whole, is governed by the specific restrictions of the law regulating it. These restrictions cannot go so far as to abolish the right to strike or prevent the lawful exercise thereof. Law 1264/1982, which primarily refers to people employed in a relationship of subordination under private law, with the exception of certain clauses, is applied through the special regulations governing salaried civilian state employees, with the exception of the employees of EYP. It also refers to permanent or fixed-term employees of local authorities, institutes of higher education, church and other bodies governed by public law, and also to employees holding permanent jobs whose employment relationship is governed by private law. Strikes by employees whose employment relationship is governed by private law in the public sector, in local authorities, state-law entities, enterprises of a public nature or public utilities, whose operation is of vital importance for meeting basic needs of society as a whole, are permitted to the extent to which they serve precisely those basic social needs. Characterised as enterprises of a public nature or utilities whose operation is of vital importance for meeting basic needs of society as a whole are enterprises or undertakings: a) that provide healthcare services, such as hospitals or other healthcare institutes, b) that filter and distribute water, c) that generate and distribute electricity or fuel gas, d) that produce or refine crude oil, e) that transport people and goods by land, sea or air, f) telecommunications and posts, radio and television, g) sewerage and removal of wastewater and effluents and collection and disposal of refuse, h) loading, unloading and storage of goods in ports, i) Bank of Greece, civil aviation and all types of services or parts of services concerning the settlement and payment of wages to public sector staff.

The requirements that must be fulfilled to gain (each) such special status (es): i) pass a public examination; ii) achieve a certain tenure in the position; c) in terms of nationality; d) other specific conditions.

According to the Civil Servants’ Code:

Jobs in the public sector are filled via a public (written) examination, through the application of objective criteria or through the evaluation of essential formal qualifications. All recruitment procedures are based on a prior announcement, which must be published in a special issue of the Government Gazette. Responsibility for recruitment procedures lies with the Supreme Personnel Selection Council (ASEP), an independent authority set up in 1994.

Public servants and employees of state-law entities appointed to permanent positions must undergo two years of trial service before achieving permanent status.

Only Greek citizens may be appointed as civil servants (with certain exceptions).

Other conditions for appointment: completion of military obligations for men, a clean criminal record, and certification of health and physical suitability of prospective employees by competent medical committees.

Central government. Please indicate whether and how this special employment status regulation applies to central government employees.

The above also apply to public servants employed in the central government sector.

Please indicate the elements of the employment relationship of central government employees which are regulated by:

Specific legislation.Collective bargaining.

In your answer, please refer specifically to elements such as recruitment procedures, pay (see also below), working time, work organisation, job security and employment protections, social security.

The employment status of employees in the central government sector is determined by laws, codes and regulations, as well as via collective bargaining. Issues concerning the following may, according to the law, constitute the content of collective agreements: (a) placement, job moves, transfers and posting, (b) education and training, (c) health and safety measures, (d) social insurance, except for pension issues, (e) exercise of trade union rights, trade union arrangements and the manner of withholding union dues and delivering them to the trade union organisations, (f) issues concerning leave in general, (g) working time issues to the extent to which provision of services to citizens is not restricted or prejudiced and people’s safety and health or the protection of public interests are not put at risk, (h) interpretation of the terms of the collective labour agreements. The Civil Servants’ Code regulates the following: the conditions for appointment, the obligations, restrictions and impediments affecting employees’ civil liability, civil servants’ rights (regarding job permanence, pay and working conditions, education, annual and other special types of leave, sick leave, moral compensation, freedom of expression and trade union freedom), internal moves and changes, issues concerning disciplinary law, the terms governing termination of the relationship of subordination: resignation, disqualification and dismissal, issues relating to the collective bodies (governing councils and penalties). As far as pay is concerned, public servants’ wages are regulated every year by law. Issues relating to the new working hours for employees in the public service and state-law entities are regulated by a recent decision (June 2006) of the Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation.

Please, briefly illustrate whether and how reform of employment regulation in the central government sector since the 1990s has affected:

The status of workers.The balance between legislation and collective bargaining in regulating the various dimensions of the employment relationships.Other relevant industrial relations dimensions, such as representation, conflict and its regulation.

Please, briefly illustrate whether and how reorganisation and restructuring in the central government sector since the 1990s, for instance through the establishment of special agencies or the separation of specific bodies and offices, has affected:

The status of significant groups of workers.The balance between legislation and collective bargaining in regulating the various dimensions of the employment relationships.Other relevant industrial relations dimensions, such as representation, conflict and its regulation.

(Answer to questions 5 & 6) Beginning in the early 1990s a range of statutory changes was taken forward, with important impacts on the employment status and industrial relations of public servants in general (including those employed in the central government sector). The most significant of those changes are:

The establishment of ASEP in 1994, aimed at ensuring greater transparency during public servant hiring processes.

  • The introduction of collective bargaining with Law 2738/1999.
  • The revision of the Constitution in 2001, abolishing Article 12 which had allowed the legal imposition of restrictions on public servants’ right of association.
  • The change in the statutory framework for contract workers in 2004 (GR0405102F).

3. Pay levels and determination

Please indicate:

The presence and relevance of collective bargaining on pay in the central government sector.The number and scope of bargaining units on pay within the central government sector.Do minimum wage levels vary across the different bargaining units within the central government sector? Are there common minimum wage levels in the whole public sector?Is there a single job classification system for the whole central government sector?

Wage levels and wage increases in the central government and private sectors since 2000 (table 4). If there are great variations across bargaining units within the central government sector, please briefly illustrate such variations.

Wages in the public sector are set not by collective bargaining but by legislative regulation, and this is also true of employees in the central government sector. The new method of setting public servants’ wages is based on Law 3205/2003 (Pay regulations for functionaries and employees in the public sector, state-law entities and local government, permanent officers of the armed forces, Hellenic Police Force, Fire Brigade and Coast Guard, and other pertinent provisions). Basic pay is the same in the various departments of the central government sector, and in parallel there are 18 pay scales for each category of education (mandatory, secondary, university, technical).

Pay levels * in the central government sector and the private sector

Year

Public sector (also applies to central government) **

Private sector ***

In EUROS

In EUROS

2000

-

457, 64

2001

331

472, 89

2001

383

498,86

2003

590

519,87

2004

 

559,98

2005

611

591,18

* Applies to minimum wages

** Applies to basic pay on the 18th scale in the mandatory education category

*** Applies to the minimum wage set on the basis of the National General Collective Labour Agreement.

Source : General Accounting Office, Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE).

The presence and relevance of variable performance-related pay in the central government sector. Please indicate whether variable pay is particularly relevant in certain bargaining units or organisational areas (for instance, top job positions, officers, or other occupations).

In the case of public servants (including those employed in the central government sector) there is the so-called performance incentive, which is set by legislation. Its amount varies depending on category of education. Criteria for granting it are employees’ qualitative and quantitative performance, failure to receive an adverse evaluation, and degree of interest in quicker, more effective service to citizens.

Are there any form of “benchmarking” of wage dynamics in the central government sector with other public sectors or with the private sector? If yes, are industrial relations actors involved in such benchmarking activity?

Usually used as a benchmark for any pay increases are the potential and capacity of the state budget. The Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY), the third-level union of public servants, uses wages of public servants in other EU member states as a benchmark.

4. Union Presence and density

Please provide information on:

1. Trade unions which are present in the various bargaining units of the central government sector, their number, affiliation, representational domain, membership, and the sectoral union density (data by gender).

As in the case of the private sector, the public sector is divided into three levels of trade union representation. In Greece there is only one third-level trade union organisation, ADEDY. Second-level trade union organisations of public servants are: a) the federations of sect oral or occupation-based unions, whose members work for one or more ministries or state-law entities, b) federations of unions whose members work for the same ministry or state-law entity or group of state-law entities under the supervision of the same ministry. Where employees or a ministry belong to a single trade union organisation of that ministry with more than one branch, their organisation is also considered to be second level. The number of second-level trade union organisations (federations) that are members of ADEDY is 46 (of which 14 include employees in ministries). There are no aggregate data on union density (by gender) in individual federations, but according to estimates almost all public servants are members of a trade union organisation.

There are some older data (2001) from the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI) on women’s participation in the administrations of ADEDY member federations, as well as on the ADEDY executive committee. Indicative data:

TABLE

FEDERATION

MEMBERS

MEN

WOMEN

%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION (POSYP)

11

9

2

18,18%

UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE (OSYO)

15

12

3

20,00%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE (POSYPPO)

15

14

1

6,67%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS OF EMPLOYEES OF THE MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, PLANNING AND PUBLIC WORKS (POSE YPEXODE)

15

15

0

0,00%

UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF COMMERCE (OSYPEM)

13

11

3

23,08%

UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR (OSYPE)

9

8

1

11,11%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS OF EMPLOYEES IN THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE

15

11

4

26,67%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENCE (POE-YETHA)

45

41

4

8,89%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF PERMANENT PUBLIC EMPLOYEES IN THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENCE (POMDY-YETHA)

11

9

2

18,18%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL ECONOMY (POS-YETHO)

15

12

3

20,00%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS (POS-YME)

13

13

0

0,00%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF UNIONS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR (POS-YES)

13

12

1

7,69%

PANHELLENIC FEDERATION OF CIVILIAN STAFF IN THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC ORDER

11

9

2

18,18%

Source: KETHI (2001)

ADEDY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

TERM

TOTAL

MEN

WOMEN

%

1989-92

17

17

0

0

1992-95

17

17

0

0

1995-98

17

17

0

0

1998-01

17

16

1

5,88

2001-…

17

17

0

0

Source: KETHI (2001)

2. Please provide information on the diffusion within the central government sector of craft unions, professional unions, or unions, which are not affiliated to peak associations.

Although most trade union organisations belong to ADEDY, there are certain exceptions such as the Panhellenic Federation of University Degree Holding Public Sector Engineers (EMDYDAS).

3. Are there any formal procedures or rules, which aim to assess the representative ness of the various unions? If yes, please, briefly illustrate the content of such procedures or rules. Do these procedures or rules affect the access of the various unions to trade union prerogatives or to the bargaining table? If yes, please specify such effects and any possible limitations.

The trade union organisation with the largest number of members is usually taken to be the most representative.

5. Employer representation

Please provide information on:

Who does represent the central government at the bargaining table? Are there specific independent bodies, such as agencies, or negotiations are carried out under the responsibility of political actors, such as ministers?

If negotiations are carried out by specific independent bodies, please indicate how they are organised. In particular, specify whether there are guidelines or other directives set by political actors and how the tasks of the independent bodies are carried out. For instance, negotiations have to follow specific stages?If negotiations are carried under the direct responsibility of political actors, please indicate how they are organised. For instance, do negotiations take place under the responsibility of a single ministry, for instance the Finance Ministry, or are they carried out by a delegation or in a different way?

(Question 1-3)

Law 2738/1999 stipulates that most bargaining issues are communicated in writing by one of the sides involved to the other as well as to the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation, and the people authorised to bargain are also notified. The representatives of the public sector are appointed by decision of the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation. As far as representation of the public sector is concerned, according to the same Law there are differences depending on the level of bargaining. The general collective labour agreements are signed between the most representative third-level trade union organisation and the state at the central level. The individual collective labour agreements are drawn up for each ministry and supervised state-law entity and independent public service, or for each group of state-law entities of the same kind or group of administratively decentralized services or group of self-governing local state-law entities, following bargaining carried out among the competent state bodies and the most representative second-level trade union organisation. Finally, regulation of specific employment issues may be the subject of dialogue between the competent primary trade union organisation of the employees in a place of work and the body representing the state competent in the place of work.

Do collective agreements in the central government sector have to pass an ex-post “validation” procedure, for instance to certify their compliance with budget constraints? If present, please briefly illustrate such procedure and the consequences of failure to pass it.

Something like this happens at the bargaining stage. However, since public servants’ pay is not set by collective bargaining but is determined by law and by ministerial decision, there are constant efforts to keep wages down.

6. Collective bargaining and conflict in central government

Please provide information on:

The structure of collective bargaining and, in particular, the number and scope of bargaining units, both at central (national) and decentralised (workplace and territorial) levels.

Law 2738/1999 regulates collective bargaining in the public sector. Its provisions refer to salaried civil servants under public-law employment relationships, including state judicial employees, employees of public entities and first- and second-level public authorities. According to this law, there are the following levels of collective bargaining: a) the general collective labour agreements, which regulate the overall terms and conditions of employment of public servants, b) the individual collective labour agreements, which may regulate all issues that by their nature require more specific treatment or involve particularities and special working conditions, provided that they are not acceptable for inclusion in a general collective labour agreement, c) regulation of specific employment issues arising in a specific workplace and not involving any particular financial costs.

The duration of agreements and the presence and content of peace obligations.

The collective labour agreements are concluded for a fixed or indeterminate period. A collective labour agreement enters into effect on the date it is published in the Government Gazette and expires when the time agreed upon has elapsed or when it is terminated in accordance with the provisions of the law. An agreement that has been terminated still applies until a new collective agreement is signed and published. As concerns the peace obligation, it may concluded in the collective labour agreement for specific issues.

The main issues of collective bargaining by referring to the latest renewals.

On the content of collective agreements: see question 2.3.

Levels and recent trends in conflict.

A strike may be called by the representative trade union organisations at all levels. Strikes in the public sector called by the competent third-level trade union body (ADEDY) are frequent with large-scale participation, due to the high union density in the public sector. Strikes involve both pay and non-pay issues (GR0602101N GR0512104N GR0504104N)

The presence and main features of forms of regulation of labour conflict and collective dispute resolution procedures. Please indicate whether such rules are specific to the central government sector, or apply to the whole public sector, or are general and cover both public and private sectors.

Mediation and arbitration procedures differ between the public and private sector. As regards mediators, Law 2738/1999 provides that by decision of the Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation every second January a list of names is drawn up which includes the President and Vice Presidents of the State Legal Service and three professors or assistant professors in university law schools, appointed by the Minister of the Interior Public Administration and Decentralisation from among three people nominated by the chairman of each law school. In the event that a request for mediation is submitted following a public ballot, one of the people included in the abovementioned list of names is appointed mediator for the specific mediation. As regards the mediation procedure per se, the law stipulates that if the bargaining to draw up a collective agreement fails, the parties concerned may request the services of a mediator. The mediation procedure begins with the submission of a request by the parties concerned, jointly or separately, within a period of five days from completion of bargaining that ended in a dispute. The request, which is submitted separately, is also communicated to the other side. The mediator invites the sides to discussions, hears the views of the sides in private, examines individuals or undertakes any research on the questions submitted. If the sides fail to agree within a deadline of 10 days, the mediator has the right to submit to them a proposal of his own. If the sides fail to make known the acceptance of the mediator’s proposal within 10 days of its announcement, it will be considered rejected. The mediator notifies the other side of the acceptance or rejection of the proposal. If the proposal is accepted, the mediator calls on both sides to sign it, whereupon it acquires the standing of a collective labour agreement.

For employees in the private sector (including employees in public utilities and services) the current mediation and arbitration system is regulated by Law 1876/1990 on free collective bargaining. This law established the Mediation and Arbitration Service (OMED). (GR0508103TEL.doc) As concerns employees in enterprises of a public nature or public utilities, Law 224/1994 (Regulation of employment issues, trade union rights, worker health and safety and organisation of the Ministry of Labour and the legal persons supervised thereby and other provisions) provides for intervention by a mediator/arbitrator in certain specific cases.

ADEDY’s basic demands involve the following: increase in basic pay (EUR1,250), extension of regulations on arduous and unhealthy occupations to the public sector, inclusion of public servants in the Workers’ Welfare Foundation, contract workers’ issues, etc.

Issues of particular concern to public opinion regarding the public sector are: improvement of services provided, best service for citizens, corruption, greater transparency in all sectors, etc.

Christina Karakioulafis, INE/GSEE

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