Report from Greece on COVID-19 situation
By Giannis Tasioulas, President of the Federation of Construction Workers and Allied Trades of Greece and Member of UITBB Secretariat
In Greece, the Government of Nea Dimokratia took advantage of the COVID-19 situation and granted the right to companies in almost all sectors to suspend workers’ employment contracts by giving 800 euros to employees to cover their income for a period of 45 days, while also exempting employers from paying wages. In the same context, it gave a series of privileges and financial support to companies such as:
- Right to offer work in shifts
- Tax exemptions and tax refunds.
- Reduction of rents for the lease of buildings and facilities
- Suspension of payment of insurance.
However, the government did not take any measures to oblige employers to take any health and safety measures to protect the workers. There was a big problem with the provision of personal protection measures, the observance of social distancing between employees, the commute to and from work and the use of tools and machines by the employees.
Our federation of Construction Workers and Allied Trades has made dozens of interventions in large workplaces and has imposed measures to protect health. We organized strikes, we intervened between the workers and the government so that the builders could receive the 800 euros, since our government had initially excluded them from receiving it. Our intervention helped some 65,000 builders and other construction workers.
Lastly, during the period of restrictive measures, various interventions were also made by the class movement to battle major problems such as the organization of Pan-Hellenic days of action, celebrations of May Day and others.