Collective bargaining coverage in Greece is around 65% while trade union density is 23% overall but higher in the public sector.
Collective bargaining system
The constitution includes references to the right of collective association, trade union freedom and strike action as well as collective bargaining.
Before 1990, the state had a major role influence over collective bargaining, resolving collective disputes and regulating industrial relations. A new legal framework for collective bargaining was established in 1990, removing state intervention and putting the emphasis on dialogue and consensus between employer and employee organisations. A key element in this framework is the independent Mediation and Arbitration Service (OMED) that was set up in 1992.
However, collective bargaining in the public sector only gained a legal foundation in 1999 and strictly speaking pay is still set outside of collective agreements although there can be informal collective bargaining on the issue.
Collective bargaining takes place at national, cross-sectoral level in the private sector with a national agreement negotiated between the GSEE trade union confederation and the three main employers’ organisations. There are also sectoral and occupational agreements that set more specific pay and conditions. There is also a trend towards more decentralised agreements at company and workplace level.
There was no real social dialogue before 1990. The Economic and Social Committee (OKE), modelled on the Economic and Social Committee of the EU, was set up to fill this gap at national level and it is based on tripartite representation of interests: employers, employees, and a third category (farmers, independent professions, local government, and consumers) whose representation depends on the particular issue discussed. There are a number of other national level social dialogue committees including one on employment and another dealing with social policy. There are also committees at regional level.
There is a right to establish works councils in organisations employing 50 or more workers. This threshold falls to 20 workers where there is no trade union present.
Legal regulation of pay and working conditions
Working hours are regulated with the working week in the private sector set at 40 hours and 37.5 hours in the public sector. There is a minimum of 23 days’ paid leave each year. There is a statutory minimum wage. In the private sector this is negotiated as part of the national collective agreement negotiated between the GSEE and the employers’ federation. In the public sector it is determined by statute.
There are two main trade union confederations – the GSEE which organises private sector workers and ADEDY the confederation of civil service trade unions. Within each federation unions are organised on either a sectoral or professional basis.