Greece: UN labour agency outlines roadmap for tackling unemployment and weak economy

Athens residents protest the Greek government’s handling of the financial crisis during a national strike in September 2012. Photo: IRIN/Kristy Siegfried

27 November 2015 – The head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), after meeting with Greek Government officials and labour representatives, has reaffirmed the agency’s support to the country’s economic revival and efforts to curb unemployment.

“It is the ILO’s intention to assist the Greek Government in addressing the social and labour impacts of the current economic situation and to promote collective bargaining and social dialogue, in full respect of the International Labour Conventions ratified by Greece,” Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said, commenting on the Greek Government’s 2016 budget proposal.

Mr. Ryder, at the invitation of the Greek Minister of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity, George Katrougalos, visited the country yesterday to discuss its economic and social reforms.

Having agreed with the Government on ILO’s technical support, Mr. Ryder said that it “will aim at curbing unemployment through the strengthening of active labour market policies and the social economy in Greece.”

The UN labour agency will further enhance support for Greece’s efforts to fight undeclared work and informal economy.

In addition to meeting with Government officials, Mr. Ryder also attended a 'Tripartite Round Table Discussion on Strengthening Social Dialogue' with Greek social partners, representatives from employers and workers to identify improvements on social dialogue mechanism.

“Achieving better job quality, reducing labour market insecurity, improving working conditions, and ensuring healthy and safe workplaces presupposes that bipartite and tripartite social dialogue and collective bargaining find their place in policy making,” said Mr. Ryder in his remarks.

Moreover, he urged the Government and social partners to urgently explore consensus-driven solutions to address the problems caused by unemployment, underemployment and informal jobs, as well as to undertake an impact assessment of certain provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (between the Greek Government and the European Commission).

The official visit of the ILO chief to Greece came during critical reforms in labour law, pensions and the broader industrial relations framework.

Since 2010, Greece has been implementing a fiscal consolidation and structural adjustment in exchange for a multi-billion euro bailout package. In order to curb budget expenditures and increase revenue, Greece expects its economy to contract by a further 0.7 per cent in 2016.

The unemployment rate in Greece is about 25 per cent with youth disproportionately affected. It is estimated that 75 per cent of the unemployed have been without work for over a year.


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