We will not let the clock of history go back, says Greek union as protests mount against labor law

The Greek government has proposed a bill that introduces several anti-worker measures, including increasing work timings in the country from eight hours to 10 hours per day, making Sunday a working day, restricting union activities and curtailing the right to strike

May 17, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Workers Protest-Greece
Protest mobilization in Athens. (Photo: via 902.gr)

The Greek working class has intensified protests against a new labor regulation bill proposed by the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led government. On May 13 and 14, mobilizations were held under the leadership of the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) in different parts of Greece protesting the bill which would introduce several anti-worker policies. These include increasing work timings from eight hours to 10 hours per day, making Sunday a working day, restricting union activities, and curtailing the right to strike. On Thursday, May 13, a massive rally was held in Athens to demand the withdrawal of the anti-labor bill.

902.gr reported that mobilizations also took pace in Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Lavrio, Patras,  Ioannina,  Preveza, Larissa, Volos, Zakynthos, Pyrgos, Samos, Syros, Ikaria, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kalamata, Chalkida, and other parts of the country. Several organizations including the Federation of Secondary Education Officers (OLME), Hellenic Teachers’ Federation (ILO), Association of Hospital Doctors of Athens – Piraeus (EINAP) and Students Struggle Front (MAS) participated in the protests. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) expressed solidarity with the workers’ protest and called on the government to withdraw the bill. The Greek working class had organized a national general strike protesting the bill on May 6 as well. 

On May 12, Greek labor minister Kostis Hatzidakis outlined the details of the bill, saying that it introduces flexibility to the eight-hour workday by allowing employees to work up to 10 hours on one day and fewer on another, or take time off. The bill also introduces a ”digital work card to monitor employees working hours in real time, as well as increase legal overtime to 150 hours a year.”

PAME accused the incumbent ND-led government of continuing on the road paved by the previous Syriza government. According to the union, the government wants “the worker to work like a slave, without being paid, imposing work 7 days a week, 13 hours a day. They want to dismantle every regulatory mechanism that existed in favor of the worker and have left the workers in the lurch ..even in the time of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.” 

“We the workers will not become slaves of the 21st century. We have an obligation to pass on to our children what our parents bequeathed to us, the 8 hour-word day and the rights. We represent the law of the many, of the working class. We produce their profits, we are the ones who build the future, we are the ones who push society forward. We will not let the clock of history go back!” said PAME.

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