13 July, 2005
The government appeared adamant on Tuesday over its closely watched initiative to liberalise the labor regime in tandem with unifying shop hours around the country, measures that have met with strong opposition by trade unions' leaderships.
"The government has proceeded with a series of structural changes; it has announced them, discussed them with social partners and it will move ahead because it's for the country's good; for the good of the economy and for employment," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters during a regular press briefing.
Moreover, he again echoed other top government officials' statements in emphasizing that there is absolutely no intent to abolish the eight-hour work day over the course of the year. Instead, he said a more flexible labor regime will allow tourism-related businesses, for instance, to work longer hours when required, while chopping off work hours for staff during the off season.
Asked about opposition from the ruling New Democracy-affiliated DAKE labor grouping, Roussopoulos underlined that the "labor movement during a ND government is not manipulated, in contrast with other parties, who from the Parliament's podium threatened strikes, thus manipulating the labor movement."
In referring to a "decriminalization" of the labor market, Roussopoulos added:
"There are certain areas of the country where opening a store on Saturday is prohibited ... if a professional, one who is just beginning his career, opened his business on Saturday then he would find himself before the prosecutor. Today the government allowed someone who wanted to keep his business open for an extra hour each day to do so ... What previously took place was absurd," the spokesman stressed.
Source: Athens News Agency