Greece – a year in crisis

Examining the social and political impact of the austerity programme the Greek government embarked on last year, for the German think-tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

2 responses to “Greece – a year in crisis

  1. Thank you so much for this excellent summary of the last year here in Greece. I already sent the link on to several people abroad who are really interested in what is going on and are constantly struggling to get accurate information like this.

    One question. I may have asked this already on another post. You give the figures for average working weeks (42.1) and minimum retirement age (61.4). Are there any figures around to split these out for the public and private sector? It seems like there is this distinction, as you also make it, about paying taxes. You mention that the tax-avoidance in the private sector is rather high. Fair point. But is my impression correct that the average working hours and retirement age in public and private sector are also very divers? And might it not be that these two result together in these very moderate figures compared to Germany?

    I am asking because I get asked that a lot. And trying to debunk a myth is rather difficult if you can not find the figures. And I have to admid, around me I do not know of any person in the private sector who works just 42.1 hours a week and I also no no-one who is on pension before 60. I DO know an awful lot of people who work(ed) in the (semi-)public sector who work considerably shorter than 42.1 hours a week and also quite a number who are retired in their (late) 50s or are in the process to do so.

    • Anton – it’s great to hear from you again. My apologies for not replying sooner but the last few weeks have been like a maelstrom. On the issue of the working hours – by law (one passed in 1983, if I’m not mistaken) civil servants work only 37.5 hours a week. The government said it will change this to 40 hours. It goes to show how many hours people in the private sector are working if the average is about 42! I’m not so sure on the retirement ages but I will look into it because it’s an interesting point. However, from experience I know that it is only a limited amount of civil servants (military for example) that can retire early on full pensions. Most who retire in their 50s are on reduced pensions. Another aspect to bear in mind is that the Greeks who are in their 50s and 60s now tended to enter the labor market much earlier than other parts of Europe, therefore completing their years sooner than others. This is all changing now anyway and I think this myth of Greeks putting their feet up in their 50s while others slave away into their 60s will soon – hopefully – be put to rest. Hope you are enjoying the summer otherwise.

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