Public transport staff in Athens went on strike for the second time in a week on Wednesday before a parliamentary vote on a law the government says will revamp outdated labour rules but which unions fear will bring longer hours and weaker rights.
Ships remained docked at ports, and many bus, subway and railway services were suspended as transport staff walked off the job. Workers from other sectors also held work stoppages and were expected to join several protest rallies in central Athens before the vote on the bill later on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government, which took office in 2019, said the reform would modernise “antiquated” laws dating back decades to a pre-internet time when most workers clocked into offices and factories at the same set hours.
Trade unions have described the draft law as a “monstrosity”. They want the government to withdraw the bill, which they say will reverse long-established workers’ rights and allow companies to bring in longer hours through the back door.
The most disputed part of the bill allows employees to work up to 10 hours on one day and less time on another. Unions fear that will enable employers to force workers to accept longer hours.
The bill would also give workers the right to disconnect outside office hours and introduce a “digital work card” from next year to monitor employees working hours in real time, as well as increase legal overtime to 150 hours a year.