The Parliament in Greece recently approved a new labor law that introduces a six-day work week and flexible working hours despite the protests of opposition parties and trade unions.
Out of 300 legislators, 158 supported the law, all from the ruling New Democracy party. The rest voted against the legal reform.
The government claimed that the new labor law incorporates EU directives into Greek law and is a way of combating undeclared work, offering flexibility and boosting employment in general.
The new law allows full-time workers to have a part-time second job and to work up to thirteen hours a day. In other words, this amounts to sixty-five hours a week (five-day week) or seventy-eight hours (six-day week).
It also sets out the conditions for a six-day week if necessary.
Employers will be able to offer new workers a probationary period of up to six months and dismiss them during the first year without compensation or notice unless otherwise agreed.
Labor Law in Greece will punish those that prevent workers from working
In addition, those who prevent workers from going to work during strikes will be punished with fines.
The plans include obliging people to work on a Saturday or Sunday and receiving an additional forty percent of the daily wage for the sixth work day.
They also include the introduction of employment on demand, making it possible for an employer to call an employee twenty-four hours in advance in order to request them to show up to work.
The law would allow workers to take on a second job with another employer for up to five hours a day in addition to the eight regular working hours.
Opposition parties and unions say that the new law will make the six-day work week a common practice as labor inspections are “practically non-existent” in Greece.
The unions criticize the law for watering down the eight-hour day and the five-day week.
“The new draft law imposes 13 hours of work per day and 78 hours of work per week,” said the Merchant Marine Union. “It abolishes breaks at work and weekends.”
The umbrella organization of public sector unions, ADEDY, also fears a criminalization of trade union activities because the new law imposes fines of up to $5,349, knowing that the strikers could prevent other workers from going to work.
Last week, trade unions called for a 24-hour strike. The strike was supported by major unions, including PAME, Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY), Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME), Maritime Workers’ Union (PENEN), and Federation of Public Hospital Employees.
Unions maintain the new legislation would undermine workers’ rights and conditions. Some of the banners at protests read: “We will not become modern slaves” and “The Eight-hour day was and will be a workers’ conquest.”