in 2010, the Greek public sector Trade Unions took a case to the Social Rights Committee of the Council of Europe.
Their case was a complaint against Troika demand to prolong the "trial period" for new "measures" which made it possible for an employer to fire a employee with less than 1 year service without notice, and cut the minimum wage for workers under the age of 25 to 2/3 of the national minimum wage.
A (non-binding) ruling came back this morning, supporting the Trade Unions in their opposition. The Committee states that:
Luis Jimena Quesada, the committee’s president stated:the longer trial period ran counter to a clause in the Charter of Social Rights which said workers were entitled to “reasonable” notice before their employment was terminated and that the lower wage meant young Greek workers had fallen below the poverty line of 580 euros a month.
While the committee lacks the power to enforce it's ruling, it will put the ruling to the Council of Europe to give it legal footing within the 49 member states of the council.This ruling establishes the illegality of the measures concerned which can be invoked in the national jurisdictions. Budgetary readjustments necessitated by the global economic crisis should not lead to an erosion of workers’ rights enshrined in the European Social Charter.
The ruling does form a serious basis for legal and remedial action in the courts in Greece (and anywhere else in Europe), which is the route now taken by the Trade Unions. This could prove to be highly embarrassing for both the Greek government and the Troika, who have obviously been wiping their feet on the European Social Charter in more than one way. I am thinking, amongst other things, about the arbitrary cuts in social welfare payments, based on age. I've always wondered are you less unemployed when under the age of 25, or is life less expensive for those under the age of 25? Or is this just another case of trashing the rights of a particular group in society in the name of "budgetary adjustments"?