On Friday, the Greek Parliament approved the new labor law promoted by conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that allows companies to impose a sixth working day and vary employee schedules to adapt them to production needs.
The reform was supported by 158 out of 300 legislators in a parliament controlled by the ruling New Democracy party. All other parties voted against the legal reform.
During a speech in Parliament before the vote, Labor Minister Adonis Georgiadis defended the bill by arguing that it does not eliminate either the eight-hour day or the five-day week.
According to the Mitsotakis administration, the new law makes the working schedule more flexible to “reduce undeclared overtime” and thus protects workers.
The reform allows workers to voluntarily have a second job of five hours a day alongside their main activity of eight hours a day.
In addition, it establishes that companies can impose a sixth working day for which workers will receive an additional 40 percent of their daily salary.
Although the Mitsotakis administration swears that these rules will be applied in “exceptional conditions”, opposition parties and unions say the new law will make six working days a week commonplace given that labor inspections are practically non-existent in Greece.
The legal reform also introduces contracts for “On-Call Employees” who will practically not have a fixed schedule since their employer will be able to call them to work when required.
On Thursday, thousands of citizens in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larisa and other cities protested against the new labor law. In downtown Athens alone, over 6,000 people gathered.
“We will not become modern slaves” and “the Eight-hour day was and will be a workers’ conquest,” could be read on some of the banners of the protesters, who marched to Parliament in the central Syntagma Square.
Sokratis Famelos, the head of the parliamentary group of the leftist Syriza party, warned that the conservative government is moving towards the “full deregulation” of fundamental labor rights to the benefit of big business interests.