Greeks Strike to Protest Threat of Being Duped by Four-Day Week
Greek workers took to the streets on Thursday in the country’s first general strike since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as unions rallied against a government plan to reshape working hours.
Labor-market reforms proposed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis include a plan for flexible hours, which could involve working longer for four days and getting an extended weekend. But with Greece suffering the highest unemployment rate in Europe, labor organizers worry the move would be used by employers to exploit workers, which could struggle to actually get the time off.
The legislation would turn workers’ lives “into hell,” GSEE, the country’s biggest private-sector union, said in a statement.
Transportation and other services have been disrupted across Greece after GSEE and ADEDY, Greece’s biggest public-sector union, called a 24-hour strike.
Train service has been halted and ships will remain in port, just as the country begins its summer tourist season. Doctors, teachers and court clerks are also expected to participate in the strike.
While there are numerous proposals in the government’s plan, the demonstrations are mostly focused on a measure that would allow workers to opt in for work days of over eight hours.
Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis defended the measure, saying the legislation allows workers to agree on more flexible shifts and doesn’t raise the maximum weekly number of working hours beyond 40.
The bill will be voted on by the country’s parliament next week.
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