March 4 Greek labour unions are stepping up
opposition to austerity measures announced by the government to
convince EU partners and financial markets it will meet
ambitious deficit cut targets. [ID:LDE623194]
Civil servants' union ADEDY and private sector union GSEE
called a 3-hour work stoppage for Friday. ADEDY has called a
24-hour stoppage for March 16. GSEE is considering joining that.
Here is an overview of the two unions, who together
represent half of Greece's workforce and will be key to the
success of the country's deficit-cutting plans:
GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF GREEK WORKERS (GSEE):
* GSEE is Greece's umbrella organisation for private sector
employees. It unites 157 labour unions and workers' groups,
which represent more than 2 million employees.
* Under Greek law, GSEE is the sole representative of labour
unions in annual wage talks with employers.
* Like most trade unions in Greece, GSEE is split between
different factions, each associated with one of Greece's major
political parties. GSEE's biggest political faction, PASK, is
the trade union wing of the ruling Socialist PASOK party.
* Despite this political link, GSEE has proved in the past
it can pursue its own agenda and oppose government policies. In
2001, GSEE strikes and rallies helped thwart the then Socialist
government's attempt to reform the country's pension system.
* GSEE opposes the austerity measures. Notably, it fears
that wage cuts imposed on civil servants might be extended to
private sector employees.
* GSEE is currently in talks with employers' associations
about a new annual wage agreement. In December, GSEE demanded
wage increases of about 8 percent for those on the minimum
monthly salary of 740 euros ($1,012) and a 2 percent wage rise
for all other private sector workers.
THE SUPREME ADMINISTRATION OF CIVIL SERVANTS' TRADE UNIONS
* ADEDY represents about 550,000 civil servants, mainly in
government ministries, local administration, schools and
* ADEDY opposes the measures announced by the government,
claiming they lead to an income reduction of 20 to 30 percent.
* ADEDY is split along party-political lines. The ruling
Socialists are ADEDY's biggest political faction.
* ADEDY strikes usually affect ministries, local government,
schools and hospitals and disrupt transport and ground flights.
* About 15 percent of all public sector workers observed
ADEDY's latest 24-hour walkout last month, according to
government figures. The labour union claimed that the
participation rate was much higher, at about 70 percent.
* Civil servants cannot be sacked and are seen by many
Greeks as a major source of corruption, especially in town
planning authorities, tax offices and hospitals.
(Reporting by Harry Papachristou)