Thousands of Greeks Rally Against Labor Law Changes

Thousands of Greek public sector workers, including teachers, doctors, and transport staff, took to the streets of Athens on Thursday in protest against proposed labor law amendments introduced by the re-elected conservative government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Labour Law Changes Under Scrutiny

The Mitsotakis government argues that these labour law changes are designed to combat undeclared work and stimulate overall employment growth. However, labour unions and the opposition have vehemently opposed these reforms, claiming they would lead to adverse working conditions and undermine workers’ rights.

A nationwide strike disrupts services.

The one-day nationwide strike, organized by Greece’s largest public sector union, ADEDY, marks the first significant protest since Mitsotakis’s government secured a second term. As a result of the strike, public transportation services, including trains and buses, experienced disruptions, while state hospitals operated with minimal staff and many schools remained closed.

Bill Debate in Parliament

Protesters marched to the parliament building, where lawmakers were in the midst of debating the proposed labour law changes. The bill is expected to pass later this week, given Mitsotakis’s government’s substantial majority, with 158 lawmakers out of 300.

ADEDY, representing approximately half a million workers, declared on its website, “We demand the bill’s withdrawal.”

Key Provisions of the Bill

The controversial bill, if passed, would introduce several significant changes, including:

  • Allowing full-time employees to take on a part-time second job and work up to 13 hours a day, subject to certain conditions.
  • Enabling employers to implement a six-day working week.
  • Allowing termination without notice or compensation within the first year of employment, unless otherwise agreed.
  • Introducing a probation period of up to six months and requiring detailed employment terms from employers.
  • Imposing fines of up to 10,500 euros ($11,175) on employers who fail to report changes in employees’ working hours or shifts
  • Introducing fines and a potential six-month jail term for those obstructing employees from working during a strike

Opposition and Criticism

Members of the main opposition, the Syriza leftist party, which is set to elect a new leader on Sunday, have accused the government of pursuing a “secret agenda” detrimental to workers. Greece’s Communist Party, KKE, has labelled the bill as monstrous.

Note: Currency conversion: $1 = 0.9396 euros.

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