ΑΤΗΕΝS — Coordinating actions against the government's anti-labor initiatives was called for by SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras, at a broad online event on Tuesday evening.
The main opposition party leader was addressing representatives of labor centers from across the country, trade unions of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and also from the Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY), contractors, and workers from the sectors of Greece's heavy industry, of tourism and food services, of transport and of culture.
The event was moderated by SYRIZA's MP responsible for labor issues Mariliza Ksenogiannakopoulou.
"Today I call on you to take up battle positions, to join forces -as no one should be left out- so as to defend eight-hour working shifts, collective labor agreements, the right to register and be paid overtime work, to actually defend the essence of our lives," he stressed.
The main premise of Tsipras' speech was preventing the approval of a bill already announced by the government, and which, he underlined, includes the abolition of acquired labor rights, such as permanent eight-hour shifts and paid overtime, a bill which "should not be allowed to pass in parliament, whenever this may be due to happen."
A 52 pct of workers in Greece today say they work overtime, with a 40 pct of those not getting them paid. Moreover, he stressed, Greek workers are at the top of the EU's list of maximum weekly working hours at an average of 41.7 hours, while unemployment threatens to sky-rocket to 20 pct again in 2021, he added.
In contrast, the SYRIZA government reduced joblessness by 10 pct with 675,000 new jobs and raised the minimum wage by 11 pct, said Tsipras. It also restored collective labor agreements and also minimized undeclared work from 19.2 pct in 2014 to 8.94 pct in 2018. Legislating in favor of overtime work is another issue it tackled effectively, he noted, by having some 6 million hours of work time registered and paid. Targeted working programs for some 15,500 young people and graduate scientists were also implemented, he highlighted.
With a pretext of a pandemic emergency, the New Democracy government lead workers into reduced wages and part-time work, and the suspension of their contracts with the excuse of a monthly state subsidy of 534 euros, Tsipras said, measures that although were deemed temporary, of an "emergency" nature, they are soon due to be legislated in permanence.
The SYRIZA leader also mentioned that the government did not predict any level of regulation regarding the smooth operation of telework during the pandemic.
"We can claim a better future, together with the working class, the freelancers, the creative people and the people of culture," he concluded, and called on "all progressive forces to align with SYRIZA in this battle."