Greece Implements A Six-Day Workweek

  • Many companies in the US and Europe are moving toward four-day workweeks. 
  • Greece has decided to go in the other direction.
  • Some Greek workers are now being forced to work longer days or longer weeks.
  • Critics have slammed Greece’s government for making the move.

( – The Great Recession had a profound impact on Greece when it upended the global economy in 2008. By 2013, almost a third of Greeks were unemployed. The country eventually received three rescue packages totaling more than $340 billion from 2010 to 2015. The government passed strict austerity measures and lifted the island out of The Crisis, as it’s known.

The country has now recovered more than 15 years after its economy crashed. In fact, it’s booming. Now, a controversial new measure just took effect in the country that’s designed to keep the momentum going.

New Workweek

On July 1, a new six-day work week took effect in Greece for some industries. The legislation was passed last year as part of a larger set of labor laws and increased the workweek from 40 hours to 48 hours. It gave employees who worked for companies that provide 24/7 services the option to work two extra hours per day or another eight-hour shift every week.

Employees who work in food service or the tourism industry are exempt from the new initiative. Proponents of the law, including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, have argued it is necessary to help crack down on businesses that force employees to work longer hours and don’t compensate them for overtime.

Mitsotakis said the measure was “deeply growth-oriented” and “worker-friendly.” Critics of the law disagreed with the PM’s characterization.

Critics Slam Government

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer at the UK’s Loughborough University, told CNBC that the new law is a “major step back” for the Greek workforce. He said workers in the country already have the longest hours in the European Union and work more hours than people in the United States and Japan. According to data, Greeks worked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022, compared to the average of 1,571 in the European Union and 1,811 in the US.

Akis Sotiropoulos, an executive for Adedy, a civil servants union, told the Guardian that the new law “makes no sense whatsoever.”: While every other country moves toward a shorter, four-day workweek, the Greek government is pushing workers with a longer week.

There have also been protests in the streets from people who are angry about the change. Sotiropoulos explained that he believes the real reason the government passed the law and implemented the change was that it was “ideologically committed to generating ever bigger profits for capital” and is doing that through longer weeks, not reforms to improve working conditions.

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