Thousands of protesters gathered in Athens to challenge a new labor law on June 10 that could allow ten-hour working days. A movement accompanied by a national 24-hour strike.
Several thousand demonstrators marched on June 10 in Greece against a new labor law as a 24-hour national strike disrupted transport and public services.
More than 16,000 people, according to the police, took part in several parades in Athens organized by the left opposition, the Communist and Socialist parties as well as the unions.
“No matter what the government does, this bill is condemned by the workers,” Dimitris Koutsoumbas, secretary general of the Communist Party, told reporters before adding firmly: “It must be put in the trash”. .
The bill “must be put in the trash”, for the Greek Communist Party
Some 10,000 people also marched in Thessaloniki, the country’s second largest city. Gatherings were also organized in several other towns.
Critics of this bill, which will be put to a vote in Parliament next week, believe that it will promote more flexible working hours, “a slavery of modern times”.
The social movement shut down ferries and trains, forced flights to be rescheduled, and crippled most public transport in Athens. Public services were not functioning, as was the public media.
“Do not touch the 8-hour working days”, could be read on a banner carried by communist demonstrators in the capital according to an AFP journalist present on the spot. “Slavery is not progress,” it was written on a sign.
The government ensures that the reform introduces optional flexibility of working hours, sets rules on remote work and provides guarantees against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed that the new rules would allow staff to negotiate with management the possibility of working more hours during part of the year and then taking more time off.
A working day of up to ten hours is authorized under the reform, in return for additional paid leave.
Unions denounce exploitation of overtime to come
But for unions and opposition parties, these new rules go against collective bargaining, disrupt the personal lives of employees and formalize the exploitation of overtime by employers – especially large companies – which is already going on. For years.
“The workers cannot pay their rent, [les besoins de] their children, their shopping with paid leave, ”said Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou from the rostrum of Parliament, spokesperson for Syriza, the main opposition party.
“Once these personalized contracts are formalized, they will proliferate […] and will become the norm, ”she added.
The setting of stricter rules for calling a strike is also provoking opposition from the unions.
The government majority in parliament has already approved the bill at first reading on June 9, before a plenary vote scheduled for next week.