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Thousands Join Strike Protest in Athens Against Labor Bill

Labor Bill strike
Demonstrators at Syntagma Square. Credit: Twitter/George Mourmouris

Thousands of demonstrators joined a strike protest in central Athens on Thursday against the new labor bill proposed by the Greek conservative government.

A march, organized by trade unions demanding the withdrawal of the contentious bill, was held by protesters towards the Greek parliament at Syntagma Square.

The strike called by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY) has caused major disruption in public transport, public services and the media.

“The Confederation has from the outset expressed its strong disagreement with the controversial provisions of the labor bill, which would deal a huge blow to the labor market, collective bargaining and society,” the GSEE said in a statement.

On Thursday there are no metro, electric railway (HSAP), or trolley and tram services, while the Hellenic Railways Organization’s (OSE) trains and those of the Suburban Railway (‘Proastiakos’) will also stay in their depots throughout the day.

Labor bill fuels controversy on worker’s rights

In May, Greece unveiled a new labor bill which the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis says it will increase competitiveness through more flexible working hours.

The draft legislation currently being debated in parliament will allow greater flexibility within the workweek and also modernize regulations to grant new fathers longer paternity leave.

Opponents, including the left-wing opposition parties, have accused the government of using lockdowns as a pretext to further erode longstanding working rights and legal protection for employees.

They fear it will allow employers to get out of paying overtime and set schedules that are disruptive to workers’ lives.

Syriza leader and former prime minister Alexis Tsipras accused the government of moving against a worldwide trend to improve workers’ rights.

“(It) is trying to use the pandemic as an opportunity to impose the most anti-popular (measure) a Greek government has ever brought against the world of work: the abolition of the eight-hour working day.”


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