Greece Introduces ‘Growth-Oriented’ Six-Day Working Week

Companies in countries worldwide may be toying with the idea of implementing shorter working weeks, but in Greece employees have been told that, henceforth, they can put in a sixth day of labour in an unorthodox step aimed at turbocharging productivity.

After outpacing other Europeans in terms of economic growth, the nation once at the heart of the continent’s worst financial crisis has bucked the trend again, introducing a 48-hour working week. The measure, decried as “barbaric” by unions, takes effect from Monday.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Akis Sotiropoulos an executive committee member of the civil servants’ union Adedy. “When almost every other civilised country is enacting a four-day week, Greece decides to go the other way.”

The pro-business government of the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, says the initiative was made necessary by the twin perils of a shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers. Prior to announcing the legislation – part of a broader set of labour laws passed last year – Mitsotakis described the projected demographic shift as a “ticking timebomb”. In an unprecedented exodus, about 500,000 mostly young educated Greeks are estimated to have emigrated since the near decade-long debt crisis erupted in late 2009.

The six-day scheme, officials say, will only apply to private businesses providing round-the-clock services. Under the extended working week, staff in select industries and manufacturing facilities will have the option of working an additional two hours a day or an extra eight-hour shift, rewarded with a top-up fee of 40% added to the daily wage.

Either choice, the centre right government claims, will redress the issue of employees not being paid for overtime while also tackling the pervasive problem of undeclared work.

“The nucleus of this legislation is worker-friendly, it is deeply growth-oriented,” Mitsotakis said before the Greek parliament endorsed the law. “And it brings Greece in line with the rest of Europe.”

But the backlash has been fierce. In a country with almost no tradition of inspections in the workplace, critics contend the reform ultimately sounds the death knell of the five-day working week, not least because it enables employers to dictate whether a sixth day of labour is required.

Click here to read more.


The Guardian

Related Articles

Back to top button