Friday, January 19, 2018

Greek "hollowed growth"

Greece's once record jobless rate of 27 percent may have dropped seven points since the start of the financial crisis, but nearly six in 10 people are stuck in a market dominated by part-time, on-and-off jobs.

Dead-end, fixed-term jobs are haunting most of Europe's financially battered south. In recent years, over half of Spain's youth employees have held temporary contracts, compared to two-fifths in Italy.

But in Greece, state statistics released this week show a troubling trend: Six in 10 people are stuck in lousy, insecure part-time jobs. While the trend first exceeded the startling 50-percent mark last year, experts expected the figure to quickly recede as the Greek economy, strangled by seven years of budget cuts and austerity reforms, grew by nearly 2 percent.  But it hasn't.

Experts now call "hollowed growth"

"It's the worst possible predicament Greece and Greeks can find themselves in after nearly a decade of painful sacrifices," says George Kollias, a labor expert at the General Confederation of Greek Workers. "The working assumption," said Kollias was that "new jobs would be created once salaries were sheared and hiring and firing rules were made easier for employers. But ultimately, this has all backfired, creating a monster, market jungle where anything goes. Needless to say," he tells DW, "the most vulnerable have been hit hardest."

In the startling statistics released this week, five in 10 Greek workers are owed an average of six paychecks by exploitative employers already paying part-time workers less than €500 a month. Greece has only one employment inspector for every 3,000 workers. The EU average is one to 300.

Women, meantime, receive 50 percent less than the already appalling rates, potentially giving Greece one of the biggest gender pay gaps worldwide. Only South Korea, Japan and Mexico are said to enjoy greater pay difference.


Yet, officials claim, this is all part of a success story stitched together by the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras as it moves into the final stretch of its four-year term in power, while preparing to break free of austerity and bailouts later this year.

Greece's once harrowing unemployment rate of 27 percent had dipped to about 20 percent after easing off another point last month. But it still remains nearly three times higher than the 8.8-percent EU average.

With the government registering each person who works at least two hours a week as employed, pundits, politicians and people across the country are up in arms, refuting the declining jobless trend. Private labor groups and think tanks put the real figure around at least 25 percent

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