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Greek workers protest over proposed labor law changes

Protesters demonstrating in front of the parliament building against the government's proposed labor reforms, in Athens, Greece, on September 21, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Public sector workers in Greece have staged a walkout from their jobs to protest against the proposed labor law changes by the re-elected conservative government.

On Thursday, government employees including teachers, doctors and transport staff expressed their opposition to the plans of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's government to make changes in the existing labor law.

The protesters marched to parliament, where lawmakers were debating the planned changes in the labor law.

The changes in the bill are expected to be passed this week in the parliament where the conservative party government holds 158 seats out of the total 300.

As the government says the modification would eliminate undeclared work and boost employment overall, the opposition believes it is an assault on workers’ rights and would create “barbaric” conditions.

The strike that was called by Greece’s largest public sector union ADEDY, led to disturbance in regular traffic operations.

State hospitals were also functioning on emergency staff and many schools were closed.

"We demand the bill's withdrawal," ADEDY, which represents about half a million workers, said on its website.

The walkout is the first against Mitsotakis’ government since he was re-elected in June.

The new bill would allow full-time employees to get a part-time second job and work up to 13 hours a day unless certain terms apply such as conflict of interest. It also enables employers to implement a six-day working week if needed.

According to the bill, an employee can be fired within the first year of work without warning or remuneration, unless agreed otherwise.

Employers face a fine of up to $11,175 if they fail to declare an employee’s extension of working hours or change of shifts.

The bill introduces fines and a six-month jail term against those who obstruct employees from working during a strike.


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