Eurozone wants Greeks to work six days a week to pay debts

Sep 5, 2012

Leaked email from EU and IMF outlines demands for Greek labour flexibility

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THE EUROZONE is demanding that Greeks work a six-day week in order to pay off their country's debts. The proposal is contained in a leaked email from the 'troika' of Athens' creditors – the EU, IMF and European Central Bank - to Greece's finance and labour ministries, The Guardian reports.

A number of other demands are outlined in the missive, all of which are supposed to increase the flexibility of Greece's labour market and enable the country to service its huge debts.

"Unemployment is too high, and policies are needed to prevent it from becoming structural," the email reads.

"Measure: increase flexibility of work schedules: increase the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors.

"Set the minimum daily rest to 11 hours; delink the working hours of employees from the opening hours of the establishment; eliminate restrictions on minimum/maximum time between morning and afternoon shifts; allow the consecutive two-week leave to be taken anytime during the year in seasonal sectors."

The troika is also demanding that the notice period for sacked workers be reduced, and that severance packages be cut by 50 per cent.

The leaked email comes at a sensitive time, with troika officials due to arrive in Athens on Friday to assess whether Greece has done enough in the way of economic reform to earn the next €31.5bn instalment of their bail-out. Their decision is expected next month.

Panagiotis Sotiris from the University of the Aegean told Russia Today he believed the troika could demand even harsher measures than a six-day working week.

"I think we are going to see a total dismantling of labour law which would possibly even include a seven-day work week," he said.

"It's also interesting that they are trying to reduce the number of hours between shifts to only 11 hours. So their idea is that an employer can call up an employee at any time, giving the employee no stability of working hours."

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