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Society

Greek Unions Strike for Return to Pre-Pandemic Work Rules

ATHENS — Widespread strikes in Greece brought public transport and other services to a halt Thursday as the country's largest labor unions protested employment reforms they argue will make flexible workplace changes introduced during the pandemic more permanent.

The 24-hour protest also disrupted public hospitals and ferry services to the Greek islands.

Large demonstrations were held in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, as well as other cities and towns. No violence was reported. 

Greece's center-right government says the draft legislation currently being debated in parliament will allow greater flexibility within the work week and also modernize regulations to grant new fathers longer paternity leave.

Opponents, including the main left-wing opposition party that is backing the strikes, have accused the government of using coronavirus lockdowns as a pretext to further erode longstanding work rights and legal protections for employees. They fear it will allow employers to get out of paying overtime and to set schedules that are disruptive to workers' lives.

The reforms are expected to be voted on in parliament next week. 

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