Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

The Global State of Workers' Rights - Greece

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 31 August 2010
Cite as Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Greece, 31 August 2010, available at: [accessed 17 December 2017]
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.


The constitution and national legislation provide workers with the right to join and form unions with little or no government interference. Freedom to form trade unions is established under Articles 12 and 23 of the constitution and in accordance with International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 87, which Greece has ratified. Members of the military are not allowed to form a union. Members of the police are permitted to organize and hold public demonstrations but not to strike. There are some legal restrictions on strikes, such as requirements for four days' notice before strikes affecting public utilities and 24 hours' notice before private-sector strikes. In addition, workers must maintain minimum staff levels during strikes in the public sector.

There is generally no pressure by the government or employers to join or not join certain trade unions. However, during 2008 there was evidence of violence against union activists. In late December, an unknown assailant threw acid on the face of an outspoken trade union leader. The victim was known to advocate for basic rights for workers, often immigrants, in the cleaning industry.

Workers are permitted to engage in strikes and frequently do so. There was an increase in strike activity in 2008. Massive strikes by civil servants in March 2008 caused serious disruptions to public transportation and closed down schools and other public offices. The courts can declare a strike illegal after hearing from both labor and management. According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a new law passed in 2008 allows judges more leeway to deem a strike illegal.

Unions are allowed by law to bargain collectively with employers and negotiate agreements. These agreements are honored in practice. In 1999 civil servants won the right to organize and bargain on education and training, health and safety, mobility, and union rights, but not on wages.

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