Greek union leaders scale down protest

Submitted by AWL on 15 July, 2010 - 9:32 Author: Colin Foster

Greek workers staged another one-day general strike against cuts on 29 June. Numbers on the major demonstration in Athens were, however, down on the previous day of action, and it looks as if the top trade union leaders are trying to engineer a gradual dribbling-away of the movement.

Vasilis Grollios, a political researcher in Thessaloniki, told Solidarity:

“The core of the militant workers want more pressure and action. But, unfortunately, nothing serious is being organised.

“The major conflict recently has been about the minimum wage.

“In Greece, there is a negotiation every two or three years between the employers and the union confederation about the minimum wage. The figure is set by the government only for civil servants.

“At the end of June the government said it would pass a bill to determine the minimum wage, and to freeze the minimum wage for the next three years at 740 euros (the current figure).

“The government has backed down after protest. Finance Minister Georgios Papakonstantinu says the government will leave bosses and unions to reach agreement, but he ‘'hopes’ the decision will be for salaries to be frozen.”

Government proposals for drastic cuts in pensions are due to be voted on in Parliament in mid-July. They include an increase in women’s minimum retirement age from 50 to 65, and a requirement of 40 years of social security contributions for a full pension, itself to be reduced by 10 percent on average starting in 2013.

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