Labor sector reforms up next for Greek govt

20 June 2016
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Significant labor sector reforms and addition prior actions were cited on Thursday by an IMF spokesman in reference to the Greek program, with the stage now set for another review before a remaining 2.8 billion euros in bailout cash is released to Athens — part of a 10.3-billion-euro package for the first nine months of 2016.

The next review of the Greek program (third bailout) is scheduled for the autumn.

IMF spkesman Gerry Rice said the emphasis is now on labor market liberalization, in line with “international standards”, which in this case means the regime that is more-or-less followed in other EU countries.

While a tax “tsunami” was the crux of the recent austerity package, passed last month by the leftist Greek government, the coming period may witness an even greater challenge ruling SYRIZA party. The coalition government will have to draw up, promote and ratify legislation that essentially goes against policies that it has opposed for years.

Specifically, institutional creditors are pressing for changes in the institutional framework governing labor unions and sector associations, which remains unchanged in Greece for 34 years.

Creditors also want to eliminate the institutional role of the labor ministry in determining when a business can or cannot proceed with mass layoffs, restrictions in force with a company tries to lay-off more than 30 employees per month or more than 6 percent of the total workforce in firms with more than 150 employees on the books.

Other proposed changes include modifications on the way decisions for industrial actions are taken, ostensibly replacing the general assembly setting with an actual ballot vote by affected union members; increasing the time needed before calling and holding a strike, in line with EU norms; reducing time off work for union representatives, and allowing the firing of union representatives for major infractions, among others.

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