January 1996

* Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (ELINYAE) and Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration (OMED), Greece.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Employment in Public Sector Services. 3. The Maastricht Criteria and the Convergence Plan. 4. The Management Strategies of Public Service Employers. 5. The Structure of Collective Bargaining 6. Trade-Union Organisation and Policies. 7. Conclusions. 8. Bibliographical Note.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


To develop a basis for comparative analysis on industrial relations in public services in Europe, there is a need first, to establish common criteria concerning the limits of public sector services and second, to provide a summary description on the main characteristics and developments in public services’ employment and industrial relations. This paper provides a preliminary analysis on industrial relations in Greek public services. Our emphasis on the traditional characteristics of public sector employment and industrial relation stresses the need for global and not simply legislative reform in the area of public sector industrial relations.

Public sector industrial relations become a topic of increasing interest in Greece because of three major factors. First, in the 90s there is a process of neo-liberal convergence in policy-making towards “rollingback” the public sector. Public sector played a central role in the period of adjustment after the return to democracy in 1974 (which came in the aftermath of the first oil-shock and called for political cum economic

adjustment to deal with rising social militancy, changes in international economy and internal political pressures). Adjustment occurred largely through the rapid expansion of the public sector.


since 1993 the discipline imposed by the EMU

requirements and the need to control public sector deficits call for policies for restructuring these segments of the public sector that are to remain in the public sector.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


Third, there has been since 1990, increasing pressure from the trade-unions to introduce rights and procedures of collective bargaining in all the areas of the public administration that is excluded from the formal system of collective bargaining.. In 1990 a major institutional reform was introduced in Greek industrial relations and Labour Law. The old system of state-controlled compulsory arbitration, that had dominated collective bargaining since 1955, was dismantled and gave way to an independent body of Mediators and Arbitrators. A new organisation was founded, the Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration (OMED), with the objective to develop the provision of Mediation and Arbitration services to the parties of the labour market. This reform did not touch public sector industrial relations.

In the 90s, as the national system of industrial relations changes, the priorities of the Convergence Programme tend to create further fragmentation of the Greek industrial relations system. Four distinctive sub-systems can be identified, one of which refers to the area of public sector services.

First, the system of industrial relations in the public administration, where tradition still dominates. Public sector employees although they have the right to unionise and to strike, they don’t have the right to bargain and to contract collective agreements. Certainly this sub-system is not yet at the centre for developments and change.

Second, the system of industrial relations in the public sector utilities, where the strongholds of Greek trade unionism can be traced and the workforce remains strike-prone, is the focus of political debates and
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 4

industrial action because of the extensive privatisation programme and the resulting radical changes in work organisation and employment conditions that privatisation implies.

Third, the system of industrial relations in the small companies sector which is already characterised by deregulation and informal flexibility, under the demand squeeze resulting from the convergence programme, tend to move further towards practices of informal flexibility and deregulation benefiting from the thriving underground economy and the increasing supply of foreign cheap labour.

Fourth, the system of industrial relations in the modern sector of large-scale industry seems to be influenced by new managerial practices that emphasise Human Resource Management (merit pay etc.) and even when collective industrial relations remain a priority for personnel management the preference of both labour and management is for further decentralisation and autonomy in collective bargaining arrangements.

The analysis of trends in the national system of industrial relations suggests that an institutional reform in public administration is necessary in order to allow their system of collective industrial relations to evolve. This is widely accepted by industrial relation scholars in Greece, but there is no clear idea to what direction the reform should go. However, as civil servants have suffered real wages cuts during the last five years and further real wages cuts are planned under the convergence programme, industrial relations in the public administration may enter a period of further deterioration. This may not imply overt conflict, but may lead to further decline in the provision of services.
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 5

To examine the restructuring of employment relations in Greek public services and to assess its importance, we need to refer more specifically to the relative significance of employment in public services and of public services’ employment relations. The economic and political conditions in which public sector employment expanded in Greece did shape industrial relations in public sector services and their peculiar position in the national system of industrial relations.

In Greece, public sector accounts for 13.66 % of total employment. But the importance of public sector in the employment of salary and wage earners is much higher (25.65%) because of the relatively high shares of self-employed and un-paid family members in the distribution of employment1. In other words, one out of four salary and wage earners is Labour Force 1994 (thousands) 4,167.7 Employed 1994 (thousands) 3,766.2 of which Salary-Wage Earners (%) 53.24% Self-Employed (%) 27.40% Employers (%) 7.23% Helping family members (%) 12.13%

of which Central Government & Prefectures Public Sector Corporations Legal Entities of Public Law Source:

7.42% 3.32% 2.92%

National Statistical Service and Ministry of Public Administration.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


employed in the public sector. The number of those in public sector employment is rather stable in the 90s (despite the governmental commitment to EcoFin, to reduce it by 10% in the period 1992-94)2.

Public sector employment is far from homogeneous in terms of employment status and legal conditions. There are three different categories. First, the civil servants that enjoy life-time employment. Second, public sector employees under indefinite but private contracts with their majority enjoying life-time, though private, employment. Third, public sector employees under temporary or fixed term contracts. These different categories of public sector employees are found in all the segments of the public sector i.e. Central Government (Ministries), Prefectures (Regional Government), Legal Entities of Public Law (NPDD) and Public Sector Corporations (mainly utilities).

The main reason for this lack of homogeneity in public sector employment (homogeneity in terms of legal status) is the traditional dominant pattern of recruitment in the public sector via “temporary” contracts that, following the electoral/political cycle, are transformed to “life-time” permanent contracts, i.e. a process where personnel

Central Government (Ministries and Prefectures) employ 233.090 persons and 52.421 the police, fireguards and sea police, that is a total of 285511 persons (data of November 1995 compared to 1994:273.171, 1993:279.579, 1992:272.136, 1991:277.306). The increase in 1995 by 12.340 persons is attributed to recruitment in primary and secondary education and the police. The public sector corporations and organisations (mainly the utilities) employ approximately 125.000 persons. Legal Entities of Public Law (NPDD) employee approximately 110.000 persons.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


management criteria play a minimal role. This pattern is directly linked to characteristics of both the political system and the labour market.

In the Greek labour market, which for decades has been characterised by conditions of surplus labour, high unemployment and underemployment, getting a job in the public sector has been considered a privilege. Civil servants have, as elsewhere in the EU, a different legal status from private sector employees. They enjoy job security and lifetime employment. Although public sector, especially the public administration is not a model employer, (because of erosion of public service salaries and wage compression since the mid-80s) there has been strong preference for public sector jobs.

To understand the role of public sector employment in the Greek labour market it is important to take into account that what we call in Greek "rousfeti", i.e. public sector spending and hiring to catch votes and the rewarding of jobs for votes has been a dominant feature in Greece’s patronage politics. Indeed, it should be taken into account that the postCivil-war regime restricted the access to public sector employment "certificates of social mores". via

For the politically and socially excluded

citizens, in the 50s and 60s, emigration was a "voluntary» cure of largescale unemployment and underemployment.. In the 70s and the 80s, the expansion of the state-controlled companies and organisations and the continuous working of patronage politics in the labour market led to the accentuated dominance of the state as employer3. The higher education

The peaks in the increasing trend of public sector employment in 1975-87 coincide with electoral years and the higher annual increase (10.7%) is associated with the 1977 elections. Under the socialists (1981-89) the

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


reform in the mid-60s caused the share of the university educated labour to soar. The expanding public sector offered employment opportunities to that educated and militant labour force. Expanding public sector employment served as a cure of hidden unemployment and

underemployment or as a safety valve in the growing imbalances of the labour market.

In this context, and especially in the process of getting a public sector, can be traced the causes of heterogeneity in public sector employment. There has been a pool of temporary or fixed-term contracts, on average amounting to 15-20% of permanent civil servants, which overflows following the electoral cycle, and from which normally large segments of labour are upgraded to permanent, life-time, contracts. This process has been managed by a long list of successive legislative reforms and Laws. Although public sector deregulation in Greece is yet to come, this heterogeneity consists an aspect of labour flexibility in public sector employment in the context of non-economic rigidities. Until 1994 temporary or fixed-term contracts were a permanent feature of employment in public services.

A major attempt to set up an objective and efficient system for public sector recruitment was undertaken in 1994 with the adoption of legislation introduced to regulate labour recruitment in the public sector gave priority to criteria other than professional qualifications such as household income, number of dependent children, geographic origin etc. But in practice the main criterion, remained party-loyalty and patronage politics. Thus, in 1979-89 the number of civil servants rises by 40%. This rise is of course associated with the Greek socialists’ attempt in the 80s to create a welfare state.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


Law 2190 and the creation of the Higher Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP). According to the new system, personnel selection for public sector recruitment is based to nation-wide examination4.







In the early 90s with the public sector deficit considered as the most important problem for macroeconomic stabilisation in Greece, and the

views for “rolling back” the state becoming more widespread, reversing the trend of rising public sector employment became common rhetoric. Although that reversal did not happen in the period 1991-95, the increasing

The question is whether the Greek political class can live without using public sector employment as means for political survival and reproduction. This problem is intensified by the bipolar political system as the party out of power for one-two terms has to fulfill electoral pledges and "rousfeti" promises. In the past the contradiction between neo-liberal economics or socialist economics and patronage politics was confronted in a traditional, for Greece, way. In 1991-92 the then new-government fired nearly 40,000 public sector employees working under temporary or fixed-term private contracts (the overflown pool mentioned earlier). Indeed, the necessary procedures for reallocation of civil servants and public sector employees designed to cure or reduce overmanning and rationalise employment structures, were in some cases used to enhance resignations. To this "voluntary" exodus it may be added the "leaking" of planned extensions of the retirement age and changes in pension rights which triggered a wave of early retiring older civil servants. Thus in one way or another many positions for the party clientele opened. The new government, as Socialists regained power late in 1993, along with introducing the new system for recruitment in the public sector, gave the right to those expelled or lost their public sector jobs to get them back (Law 2190/94) and created also the possibility, for one more time, to those with private or fixed-term contracts to become permanent civil servants.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


debate about the expansion of public sector employment as well as the proposals for ending job security in the public sector, indicates a new climate.

Since the Maastricht Treaty and the adoption of the 1993-1998 Convergence Programme, it became clear that the governmental

autonomy in designing and implementing macroeconomic policy has been minimised. Both the Convergence programme for the period 19931998, drawn up in 1993 and abandoned by the end of 1993, and the Revised Convergence Programme for the period 1994-1999, made clear that because of the nominal objectives of the Treaty for the public deficit and debt, public sector employment cannot be considered as a source of new jobs. Indeed, public sector is to become an area of job losses.

As it is considered that the chief factor standing in the way of economic stabilisation and growth is the fiscal problem, increasing pressure on public sector industrial relations comes from the Maastricht criteria. In the first period (1994-1996) of the Convergence Plan the emphasis is on fiscal adjustment (and on the greatest possible

acceleration of public investment, a substantial percentage of which will be achieved with funding provided by the Community Support Framework, for the purpose of improving the economic infrastructure). The projected reduction in public expenditure is, to a certain extent, a reflection of the Government’s intention to pursue a restrictive policy on public sector recruitment. Therefore, the public sector is no more a safety valve for unemployment pressures and given the high public sector deficits,

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


developments in public sector employment would add to the pressures in the, already under strain, labour market.







In the 80s and the early 90s, despite socialist and neo-liberal rhetorics, the use of public sector employment by the political class as a means for political reproduction has been dominant. Public sector employment and industrial relations were an arena subject to, and used for, the electoral cycle. In this arena, where the divide between the “losers” and the “winners” went on and on, loyalty to the ruling party rather than managerial efficiency determined the activities of public sector employers. Therefore, there was no much room for the development of management strategies. It is noteworthy that after every governmental change, the majority of public sector institutions (hospitals, pension funds, and local community centres, nearly everything) have operated "under new management". There have been more than 20,000 administrative, managerial and executive positions in the public sector filled by loyal

party members. The introduction of appropriate management strategies in public services would mean a revolutionary change for the Greek public sector.

Not surprisingly the traditional characteristics of public sector management do not show many elements of change. Traditional values and organisational forms persist. There is neither much room for strategic choice in developing employment policies nor elements of convergence between public and private sector. We rather observe continuous

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


However, elements of innovation can be traced in the new

legislation for public sector recruitment, which however is based on centralised formal control of public sector recruitment, in an attempt to control patronage politics and practices. Apart from centralised control of recruitment, other managerial issues remain marginal.

Productivity performance in public administration has not been measured. There have been no special measures to improve it, despite the common view that it ranges well below acceptable standards. Its causes, as far as industrial relations and personnel management are concerned, remind the experience of the developing countries in the 80s: excessive public sector wage bills; surplus numbers of civil servants; erosion of public service salaries; and wage compression. No attempt for reform going beyond the macroeconomic-budgetary IMF and WB inspired policies has been undertaken. Privatisation procedures do not affect the public services yet. Overall, privatisation processes are slow and concern mainly manufacturing industries that were brought under state control in the 70s and the 80s.

However, there are plans underway aiming to modernise public sector organisations, corporations and companies. The emphasis and priority is on public sector utilities (Electricity, Telecommunications, etc.) but the draft legislation which will transform most public corporations to stock companies (or Societe Anonymes) concerns also many Legal Entities of Public Law (NPDD). According to these plans, after changing the legal status of these public sector corporations and entities, Managing Directors will be appointed after open public tender on a private sectorlike basis, Administrative Boards will be appointed for 5-year service.
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 13

Administrative Boards will include representatives of the social partners proposed by the Economic and Social Committee. The five-year Business Plan of the companies will be submitted to, and accepted by, the Parliament. Other measures in the draft bill (not yet submitted to the Parliament) refer to productivity bonuses that could be paid to employees. There is no reference to other industrial relations issues, but the question raised by the Trade-Unions side is that many of these organisations are now subject to the civil servants code/regime and the reform would end their civil-servants status.

Another major reform concerns the decentralisation of Central Government responsibilities to the Regional and Local Government. This process is underway and will also affect industrial relations as Regional and Local Government institutions should start operating as employers too, and not only as political bodies. Similar trends towards modernisation and/or deregulation are observed in the Local Government. The Ministry of Public Administration and Decentralisation examine the need for giving permission to Local Authorities to create private companies (stock

companies or Societe Anonymes) that will be responsible for running their services (such as refuse collection, local tax collection etc). This legislative reform is examined with the objective to increase the ability of Local Government authorities to rely more on outside contractors.

However, in the context of restrictive policies the possibility for devolution of managerial authority on employment and industrial relations matters of the Regional and Local Government institutions is limited. Until now their issues have been managed centrally by Ministries and wage policy issues have been dealt by the Ministry of Finance. The
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 14

implementation of public sector pay policy and the control of it have been the responsibility of the General Accounting Office of the State in the Ministry of Finance.

The question now is, during this period of transition, how these moves towards decentralisation will be followed by decentralisation and devolution of responsibilities on industrial relation matters. Regional and Local Government authorities have to learn to act as employers and not only as interest or pressure groups to the Central Government

Officially pay formation of civil servants is determined unilaterally by the Government in the context of its budgetary policy. The official announcement of the wage policy for the public sector (normally increase in two installments on January and July) causes strong criticism from the National Confederation of Civil Servants’ Trade-Unions (ADEDY). From time to time there is a gathering organised by ADEDY in order to condemn the restrictive incomes policy of the Government. But officially ADEDY, which is the tertiary level organisation, or secondary (Federations) and primary (unions) level organisations do not have the right to bargain. Bargaining procedures are informal, normally taking place at the central national level (i.e. with the office Minister of Finance or his/her Deputy) even when secondary and primary level unions of civil servants are involved. These informal bargaining procedures do not lead to collective agreements. If unions are successful they get a Ministerial Decision concerning the issue of the dispute. These informal bargaining procedures refer mainly to pay policy.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


Pay policy in the public sector has certain traditional cum peculiar characteristics. It is a twofold policy that refers first, to the basic wage

and second, to the bonuses of the pay package. The Ministry of Finance prefer to give pay rises in the form of bonuses for a very special reason. By giving bonuses and not increases in basic wages they evade paying these increases to the pensioners and, thus, the Ministry control public expenditure for salaries and pensions. Pensioners do not have the bargaining power and pensions are only linked to the wage ingredient of the pay package. This pay-bonuses policy although centrally managed is not coordinated and therefore causes leap-frogging, through informal bargaining, legal and judicial procedures. It is often that when individual employees or a union end up with a favourable court decision happened lately with a productivity bonus) (as

the Ministry of Finance

because of budgetary constraints, invent schemes for paying in installments for quite long periods.

Although collective bargaining remains informal, the bargaining power of various groups of civil servants is not equal (for instance the Ministry of Finance employees, do have more power as they control the collection of taxes). In this context decentralisation of informal collective bargaining led to the “destruction” of the Pay System for the public administration (Law 1505/84 - Eniaio Misthologio). The observed decentralisation of informal collective bargaining refers to Ministries and Occupations rather than to plant or organisational level. And there are

aspects of increasing bargaining power as well as signs of marginalisation in areas where the provision of services is not considered (or is not) essential.
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 16

The Pay System in public administration, although balkanised, remains rigid and links with organisational and/or individual performance are only used as loopholes for overcoming incomes policy and wage restrictions. It is noteworthy that with the adoption of Law 1505, pay and promotion were disconnected. Plans for introducing a new system are costly and because of budgetary constraints are held up.

The long list of bonuses that are paid as a result of informal collective bargaining includes also Ministry-specific bonuses that are paid by Ministries’ specific Special Accounts. The revenues of these accounts are usually a percentage of revenues or expenditure of each Ministry’s activities. For example there are such Special Accounts drawing on the receipts of Social Security Fund, drawing on the receipts of the Ministry of Finance, a share on the expenses of the Central Accounting Office, a share on the expenditure of the Ministry of Public Works for public

works, share on the revenues of the Museums for the employees of the Ministry of Culture, etc.

Apart from the objective for pay increases, another main objective of ADEDY refers to the introduction of formal bargaining procedures in the public administration according to the ILO conventions 151 and 154 that have not been transposed yet in Greece. As already said, formal industrial relations in the public administration are dominated

characterised by the tradition. Civil servants have the right to unionise and to strike, but they do not have the right to bargain and to contract collective agreements. The government when announcing the wage policy for 1996, declared its intention to transpose the ILO conventions 151 and
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 17

154 during 1996 and introduce a system of free collective bargaining in the public sector for the 1997 bargaining round. Therefore a new model for collective industrial relations in the public administration may emerge. There are no clear guidelines on the characteristics of the new model. It will be probably based on the experience of the Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration (OMED) that covers private sector employees.

We analysed in chapter 2 the heterogeneity of employment status and conditions among public sector employees. The differentiation between civil servants and employees under contracts of private Law (indefinite or fixed-term) is observed also in the area of collective industrial relations with regard to collective bargaining rights. Public administration personnel employed under private law contracts (indefinite or fixed-term) do have the right to bargain and to contract collective agreements. Thus public sector employees of private law are members of different unions at the primary level and the national Trade-unions structure. They usually belong to the General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and not to the General Confederation of Civil Servants TradeUnions (ADEDY). It is often that, in the same public service institution, the unionised personnel is divided into two primary level trade-unions because of the different status with regard t o employment and collective bargaining rights.

The existing system of collective bargaining between public sector private employees and their public sector employers is also much centralised. The General Accounting Office of the State in the Ministry of Finance deals with more than hundred cases of collective agreements. In the General Accounting Office there are two sections. The first (section A)
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 18

is responsible for civil servants pay while the second (section B - literally one or two employees) are responsible for handling collective bargaining with more than one hundred primary level trade-unions of public sector employees of private law.

Not surprisingly there is no much room for collective bargaining as the offer of public sector employer is always the same i.e. the annual pay policy for civil servants. However, trade-unions have the right, since 1992, to take the dispute to Mediation (Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration -OMED) and when they accept a proposal made by the Mediator, they can go further to Arbitration. The majority of these collective bargaining procedures end with Arbitration awards that, up to the present, only in exceptional cases provide for marginal increases above the rates of the governmental wage policy. Therefore, we may say that, while for civil servants collective bargaining is informal, for public sector employees (under private law contracts) quasi-collective bargaining procedures are observed because public sector employers do not really bargain.

The plans for the introduction of collective bargaining rights across the public administration sector have to go beyond the typical-legal restrictions and answer the question who is to bargain with public sector trade-unions and with what kind managerial responsibility.

The announcement of public sector wage policy for 1996 coincided with the procedures of the 29th Congress of ADEDY that took place late in
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 19

November (27-30) 1995. 614 representatives from 57 Federations of civil servants participated in the Congress representing nearly 250.000 civil servants that voted in the preliminary proceedings at the primary and secondary level of the civil servants’ trade union organisations. The Congress led to the reelection of the ADEDY leadership with slight changes in the shares of its political fractions. Unions officers affiliated with the Socialist party in government (PASOK) obtained absolute majority of 50.5% while in the past congress they controlled 46.3% of the representatives. Union officers affiliated with the conservative party (Nea Dimokratia) lost ground to 31.9% compared to their past share of 36.2%. Unions officers affiliated to the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) preserved their share of 8.1% while those affiliated to the Communist party (KKE) increased their share from 6.0% to 7.5%. Finally, the far left trade union officers preserved their share of 2.05%.

The above information is important in order to understand that apart from the first distinctive characteristic of employees’ organisations in public services which refers to the lack of the right to bargain, the second important characteristic refers to the political divisions of public sector trade-unionism (divisions observed also in private sector trade-unions). However, the structure of public sector trade-unions is not divided across political lines. Political divisions are internal to primary, secondary and tertiary level trade-union organisations of civil servants and public sector employees. A third important characteristic is that, as in the public sector is employed the highest share of labour with higher education, Professional Associations, such as the Technical Chamber (of engineers and technicians) or the Economic Chamber (of economists) are more efficient

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


in protecting their members’ interests. Although they are not involved in any formal bargaining procedure they are as pressure groups very efficient.

The question of merger of the private sector (GSEE) and the civil servants (ADEDY) Confederations has entered the agenda of both sides when thinking on their strategies. Although past experience suggests that trade-union mergers are a very difficult task, mergers are considered as a way to increase bargaining power in a period of decreasing union density in Greece. With regard to public services trade-unions, we may also note their difficulty to form alliances with users because of the strong criticism about the performance of the public sector services and the effects of patronage politics. This is one explanation for the fact that although public sector services are characterised by high union density, trade-unions are not strike prone. Conflict and discontent are not overt. In the last three years ADEDY called only three one-day strikes to express disagreement with public sector pay policies.

Public sector employment has an important role in the Greek labour market, as one out of four salary and wage earners is employed in the public sector. The expansion of public sector employment has been linked with the workings of patronage politics in the political system. The Maastricht criteria and the Convergence Plan tend to stop the traditional operation of public sector employment. Because of political and historical reasons public sector employment is not homogeneous. There are two distinctive groups of employees. First,
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 21

civil servants and second, employees under private contracts (indefinite or fixed-term). Civil servants have the right to be union-members, the right to strike but have no right to bargain and to contract collective agreements. However, there is informal collective bargaining. This informal collective bargaining gave to the Public Administration Pay System, introduced in the mid-80s, the present shape of adhockery.

Public services’ employees with private law contracts have the right to bargain but, in fact there is no real bargaining process. They have to deal with the General Accounting Office of the Ministry of Finance and the official pay policy for civil servants. Mediation and arbitration services available since 1992 cannot create a real bargaining process.

A major objective of civil servants; trade-unions is the introduction of collective bargaining rights in the public administration. The government promised to introduce a n system for collective bargaining during 1996, to become operational in 1997. There are no sign on the characteristics of the new system. In the meantime, reform is underway concerning public sector corporations, regional and local government. This reform, aiming at decentralisation and privatisation, may change the industrial relations regime of wide segments of public sector employees.

In the past most discussions with regard to public administration reform led to successive legislative reforms. Policy making has been largely dominated by a legalistic approach, while the reform of industrial relations in the public administration, in the context of the discipline imposed by the EMU requirements, is more an industrial relations and personnel management issue. The diagnosis refers to excessive public
Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services. 22

sector wage bills; surplus numbers of civil servants; erosion of public service salaries; and wage compression. However, any attempt for reform must go beyond the legalistic and macroeconomic policies.

Wage policy has been one-dimensional in the sense that it is guided by budgetary priorities and the electoral/political cycle without taking into account the microeconomic side-effects. In the context of egalitarian wage policies, pay progression has been made automatic and independent of promotion and grading.

In the area of collective industrial relations suffers too. A paradox is observed as in the heavily unionised civil service there is the right to strike but there is no right to bargain and contract collective agreements. Thus collective bargaining remains atypical and industrial relations quite political.


Research in the area of Greek industrial relations is not very developed. Public sector industrial relations is a topic not much examined in the limited literature. Bibliography in English is not available. For those interested, the author may provide titles of the bibliography available in Greek.

Christos A. Ioannou: Employment Relations in the Greek Public Services.


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