Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018, 15:01 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Greece

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Greece, 11 June 2009, available at: [accessed 18 February 2018]
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.

Population: 11,200,000
Capital: Athens
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

A woman trade union leader was maimed in a barbaric attack. The right to strike is subject to ambiguous restrictions.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: The law provides that all workers, with the exception of the members of the military, have the right to form and join trade unions of their choice without prior authorisation. Police have the right to organise and to hold demonstrations, but not to strike.

The right to strike: The right to strike is protected by the Constitution but subject to certain conditions, such as a four-day advance notice period in public utilities. Failure to comply with these conditions may render the strike illegal.

A court of law can declare a strike "abusive", and therefore illegal, after weighing the opposing interests of workers and employers, assessing the broad implications of the strike and applying the proportionality principle.

In summer the parliament passed legal amendments aimed at accelerating appeals hearings on whether or not strikes are legal. According to the new law, when a court declares a strike illegal and this decision is appealed, the head of the Court of Appeals or the President of the Court of Appeal Governing Board must fix the hearing day for the appeal within 48 hours and designate the judges' panel. The verdict must be taken within three days of the hearing. The new law has been criticised, since the criteria for declaring a strike illegal were already too vague, and accelerating the procedure would give even more rights to the judges while restricting trade union autonomy.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Woman trade unionist severely injured: On the night of 22 December Constantina Kuneva, a cleaner with the industrial cleaning company OIKOMET and the secretary of the All Attica Union of Cleaners and Domestic Workers (PEKOP), was attacked by two men who threw sulphuric acid in her face and forced her to swallow it. The Bulgarian-born 44 year-old, who was hospitalised at the time of writing, lost her vocal cords and the sight of one eye. Her face was badly disfigured.

Kuneva moved to Greece in 2001 and became a union leader in 2004. With her union, she defended the rights of over one thousand colleagues, many of whom were irregular workers. As a result, she endured pressure and intimidation, with her mother being fired just after Kuneva was elected to her union post, and towards the end of the year she started receiving death threats. Her colleagues have no doubt that the attack was related to her trade union activities.

The Greek trade unions called for a thorough investigation. At the time of writing, the unions regarded the proceedings as unacceptably slow and deficient, with no eye-witness reports or laboratory tests having been taken.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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