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Greece Six-Day Working Week Agitates Labor Unions

by Kashish Murarka   ·  July 9, 2024  

Greece Six-Day Working Week Provokes Strong Reaction from Labor Unions

In early July, Greece introduced a controversial new regulation. The Greece six-day working week policy has sparked significant debate and strong reactions. This new measure allows employees in certain businesses to work an additional day each week. Although the government claims it’s an “exceptional measure,” many have not well-received the policy

An Exceptional Measure for Exceptional Circumstances

The Greek government insists that the Greece six-day working week is not a blanket policy. Instead, it specifically addresses exceptional circumstances Only businesses operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week with rotating shifts, or those running 24 hours for five to six days a week with rotating shifts, fall under this regulation. For these businesses, an increased workload may necessitate an additional working day.

Labor Minister Niki Kerameus has stressed that the regulation does not alter the established 5-day, 40-hour working week mandated by Greek law. She stated, “This new regulation provides only limited circumstances for the option of an additional working day.” Thus, the Greece six-day working week is not a new norm but an exception for times of increased workload.

Labor Unions Backlash

The introduction of the Greece six-day working week has triggered a labor unions backlash. Labor unions and political observers have criticized the policy, fearing it could lead to unfair labor practices. They worry that it might extend to other sectors and businesses, resulting in overworking employees without fair compensation.

The announcement of the policy package last September sparked protests. Thousands took to the streets, voicing their concerns and demanding the withdrawal of the policy. Social media platforms were flooded with posts condemning the new regulation, highlighting the growing discontent among workers.

Concerns Over Employee Compensation

One of the main concerns regarding the Greece six-day working week is employee compensation. Critics argue that the additional work hours may not translate into fair pay for employees. They fear that workers might end up doing more work without adequate compensation, leading to exploitation.

However, the Greek government has assured that the new regulations include provisions to protect employees. Minister Kerameus emphasized that the law ensures fair compensation for the extra hours worked. “Workers could see their salaries rise due to the increase in hours,” she noted. The government aims to protect employees from being overworked and underpaid.

Safeguards Against Unfair Dismissal

To address concerns about potential exploitation, the Greece six-day working week policy includes several safeguards. The regulation stipulates guaranteed days off, specific working hours, and protections against unfair dismissal. These measures aim to ensure that employees are not forced to work extra hours without proper compensation or rest.

Additionally, the law mandates that the additional working day option is permissible only in cases of increased workload. This restriction is intended to prevent employers from arbitrarily extending work hours. By implementing these safeguards, the government hopes to balance the needs of businesses with the rights of workers.

International Comparisons

Minister Kerameus pointed out that many other countries have similar provisions for exceptional additional working days. “Most countries in Europe have similar provisions for exceptional additional working days. Greece is not doing anything different,” she said. This comparison aims to justify the Greece six-day working week policy by showing that it is not unique or unprecedented.

Indeed, several European countries have laws allowing for extended work hours in specific circumstances. These regulations are typically designed to address periods of increased workload or seasonal demands. By aligning with these international practices, Greece aims to ensure its policies are competitive and reasonable.

Impact on Greek Workers

Despite the government’s assurances, the Greece six-day working week policy has raised significant concerns among Greek workers. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that Greek employees already work longer hours than their counterparts in the U.S., U.K., and across the European Union. On average, Greek workers put in over 300 hours more per year than the EU-wide average.

Given this context, the prospect of extending the working week has caused anxiety among workers. They fear that the additional hours will exacerbate existing challenges, such as work-life balance and mental health issues. The labor unions backlash reflects these concerns, as workers demand better protection and fairer working conditions.

Government’s Defense on Greece Six-Day Working Week

In defending the Greece six-day working week policy, the government has highlighted the potential benefits for both businesses and employees. The regulation is intended to provide flexibility for businesses facing increased workload, allowing them to meet demands more effectively. This flexibility could lead to increased productivity and economic growth.

For employees, the government argues that the policy could result in higher earnings due to the additional work hours. Minister Kerameus stated, “The law ensures the protection of workers, such as guaranteed days off, specific working hours, and safeguards against unfair dismissal.” These provisions aim to create a fair and balanced approach to extended work hours.

Future Prospects of Greece Six-Day Working Week

As the Greece six-day working week policy takes effect, its impact will be closely monitored. Both supporters and critics will be watching to see how the regulation affects businesses and workers. The government has promised to review the policy regularly and make adjustments as needed to ensure it meets its intended goals.

In the meantime, the labor unions backlash continues, with calls for further dialogue and negotiations. Workers and their representatives are demanding more comprehensive protections and assurances that the policy will not lead to exploitation. The government will need to engage with these stakeholders to address their concerns and build trust.


The Greece six-day working week policy has provoked strong reactions from labor unions and workers. While the government insists it is an exceptional measure for specific circumstances, concerns about employee compensation and potential exploitation persist. The labor unions backlash highlights the need for careful implementation and ongoing dialogue to ensure the policy benefits both businesses and workers.

As the debate continues, it is clear that the Greece six-day working week will remain a contentious issue. The government must balance the needs of businesses with the rights and well-being of workers. By doing so, it can create a fair and sustainable approach to managing increased workloads in the modern economy.

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