Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2016, 12:59 GMT

Global Rights Index 2014 - Greece

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 19 May 2014
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, Global Rights Index 2014 - Greece, 19 May 2014, available at: [accessed 21 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Country Rating: 5

  • No guarantee of rights

  • Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

Interference in strike action: In January 2013, the government forced an end to a nine day transport strike. The union representing the Athens' metro workers called the strike in opposition to wage reductions which were demanded by the Troika (European Commission, IMF, European Central Bank).

Other transport workers joined the strike before the government used the threat of mass arrests and police units to force people back to work. The metro workers began the strike in opposition to plans to bring them under a civil service wage structure.

In February 2013, the government invoked emergency laws to force striking seamen back to work. Seamen were demanding more than six months' worth of pay arrears and the signing of collective agreements with the ferry companies. Thousands of demonstrators converged on the country's largest port to protest against the order, while the country's two main unions declared a day-long regional strike in the greater Athens area in solidarity with the seamen.

For the third time in 2013, the Greek government threatened to invoke emergency law to force strikers back to work. The trade union representing teachers, OLME, called a strike on 17 May 2013 to protest against the new government plan which allows the transfer of 4,000 high school teachers to remote parts of Greece and the dismissal of about 10,000 part-time teachers once their temporary contracts expire.

The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) believe that the conditions set out in the Troika's Memoranda have been aimed at abolishing the system of minimum standard-setting through collective agreements, a system that has served Greece by maintaining social stability and promoting development for over 20 years. Furthermore, the recent significant interventions in the system of collective bargaining have been aimed at reducing wages in the private sector and essentially replacing collective bargaining not simply with enterprise agreements but with individual contracts.

Discussions between the government and the Troika to effectively eliminate the extension of sectoral collective agreements have taken place despite the support expressed for them by both trade unions and employers' organisations. The introduction of the special enterprise collective agreements by Act No. 3899/2010 was a first step in the direction of weakening sectoral agreements so as to reduce wages without providing guarantees for workers.

According to the GSEE, the intention of the government and the Troika to eliminate the role of trade unions in the collective bargaining process was reflected in the possibility of allowing atypical "associations of persons" that were not trade unions to conclude special enterprise collective agreements. The role of trade unions in concluding collective agreements on working time arrangements had already been undermined and an "association of persons" entitled to conclude such collective agreements. The government began preparing to build on this measure by allowing for the conclusion of enterprise collective agreements without the presence of a trade union so as to facilitate the negotiation of such agreements in medium, small and very small enterprises, which constitute 99% of Greek enterprises and had been covered until then by sectoral collective agreements. The law did not allow for the creation of trade unions in enterprises with less than 50 employees, hence the intention to allow collective agreements to be negotiated with informal "associations of persons" created on an ad hoc basis, i.e., with individuals that the employer would essentially invite for discussion without any guarantees of independence.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

Search Refworld