World, Europe

Nationwide labor bill strike paralyzes Greece

Unions protest anti-labor law introduced by government

Magda Panoutsopoulou   | 10.06.2021
Nationwide labor bill strike paralyzes Greece People attend a demonstration as part of a 24-hour general strike called by Greek labour unions in Athens, Greece on June 10, 2021 to protest against government's new labour bill which promotes working hour flexibility. ( Ayhan Mehmet - Anadolu Agency )

ATHENS

A 24-hour nationwide general strike brought Greece to a standstill Thursday as thousands protested the government’s labor bill.

Greece’s two largest private and public unions, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY), marched from Klathmonos square to the parliament building, along with the Greek Communist Party-affiliated union, PAME.

The day-long strike paralyzed the country with major disruptions in public transportation, media and public services and ferries docked at the ports.

“The government of New Democracy has made public the anti-workers bill that takes away all the rights of the worker that have been acquired for centuries from workers,” ADEDY said in a statement.

Protesters held banners that read: “Keep your hands off the 8 hour and our right to strike.”

Demonstrators in central Athens were joined by several opposition leaders, including left-wing Syriza's Alexis Tsipras, KINAL leader Fofi Gennimata and MERA25 leader Yanis Varoufakis.

The bill introduced in May has sparked outrage from opposition parties. It foresees flexible working hours, meaning workers will work for up to 10 hours instead of the current 8-hour shift. They, however, will be able to work for fewer hours on another day or take time off.

In addition, a digital card is expected to be introduced which will monitor employees' real time working hours.

“The new labor bill protects workers. It strengthens their rights. Upgrades the Labor Inspectorate, promotes the balance between family and professional life. Corrects the injustices of the past; in short: it gives strength to the employee,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.

Other measures will include electronic voting for unions prior to an announced strike. In addition, unions affiliated with public utilities must have at least one-third of employees as emergency staff during a strike.

Tsipras slammed the provision saying it would undermine workers' rights.

The bill is expected to be introduced in a plenary for discussion next week and a vote is expected Thursday.

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