Thursday

29th Jun 2017

Impose six-day working week or risk losing bail-out, Troika warns Greece

Greece should impose a six-day week to secure the next tranche of its bail-out package, according to a leaked letter sent by the country's creditors.

Under a heading "increase flexibility of work schedules" the Troika - which is composed of officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - states that the country should "increase the number of maximum working days to six days across all sectors."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Greek football fans at Euro2012 earlier this year - youth unemployment is over 50 percent (Photo: 2dubstEEr)

It adds that the government should also reduce daily rest between shifts to the 11 hours minimum and scrap restrictions on the length of shifts.

However, Greek employers will still be bound by EU labour laws such as the directive on working time, which requires workers to average no more than 48 hours per week over a four month period.

The leaked letter, which was circulated to Greek government departments last week, is the latest indication from the stricken country's creditors that there will be no further relaxation of the terms governing Greece's €300 billion bail-out.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has also been told to find an additional €11.6 billion of cuts for 2013 and 2014 despite the publication on Tuesday (4 September) of a report by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (Kepe), a Greek economic research body, maintaining that the new cuts would deepen the country's five year recession by a further 4 percent.

Despite this, Troika officials and EU politicians have continued to accuse the Greek government of dragging its feet in implementing labour market reforms.

On Tuesday (4 September) German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble insisted that there was no further wriggle-room at a meeting with Greek counterpart Yannis Stournaras in Berlin. In a statement on the German finance ministry's website, Schauble stated that it was "vital that Greece fulfils its promises completely."

Later this month the Troika is expected to present its report on the pace of Greek reforms to determine whether to continue the rescue package.

The next €31 billion instalment is dependent on a favourable assessment.

Recent data collected by Paris based think-tank the OECD found that Greeks worked 2,109 hours per year, more than 20 percent higher than the eurozone average of 1,573.

However, with the country's unemployment rate now the second highest in the eurozone at 23 percent, including an eye-watering 55 percent of under 25s out of education, training or work, Greece lags behind in total hours worked.

The Troika argues that weekend working hours could help boost competitiveness in the labour market.

Samaras' coalition government is also facing down continued public protests against the severity of the cuts.

On Tuesday, 300 pensioners stormed the health ministry demanding a meeting with minister Andreas Lykourentzos over new healthcare cuts. As with previous budget cuts, further cuts to public spending would be dependent on adoption by the Greek parliament.

Samaras visit marks 'new relations' with Germany

Greek leader Antonis Samaras has said talks on Friday with Angela Merkel marked the start of new relations between Athens and Berlin but the German chancellor remained characteristically cautious.

Hollande and Merkel in show of unity on Greece

The German and French leaders put on a careful display of unity on Greece on Thursday in Berlin, appearing briefly before press to urge Athens to continue reforms.

Agenda

German court and Dutch elections to shape WEEK ahead

EU watchers will be spoiled for choice this week as a series of important events are likely to compete for their attention - top of the bill is a decision by Germany's highest court on the eurozone's bailout fund.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  2. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  3. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  5. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  6. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  8. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  9. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  10. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  11. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  12. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances