Employers’ unions welcome rise in minimum wage

A man receives several 50 euro bank notes from an ATM in this illustration picture taken in Zurich January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

A government decision to raise the minimum wage in the country was welcomed by leading employers’ unions on Tuesday.

George Karanikas, president of the Greek Confederation of Commerce and Business (ESEE) said the confederation “positively welcomed the increase in the minimum wage,” and added: “Our hope is that it will help the market, as we consider workers to be our best customers.” He underlined, however, that the commerce sector did not pay such wages and noted that the minimum wage referred to “a 15 pct to 18 pct of the workforce.”

Karanikas said the Confederation had expected a “slightly lower” increase and noted that the Confederation recommended a gradual increase in the minimum wage to reach 751 euros by 2021.

Anastasios Kapnopolis, president of the Thessaloniki Chamber of Small and Medium-Sized Industries, also said that the increase in the minimum wage was a positive development, but he stressed that this decision should be accompanied by a reduction of non-payroll costs for enterprises.

“Undoubtedly, the minimum wage should be improved, but the 11 pct increase announced by the prime minister puzzles small and medium-sized businessmen on how to cope with this move in a period when they are deprived of bank financing, burdened with excessive taxes, high employers’ cost and social insurance payments,” Kapnopolis said, adding that wages should be linked with real economic conditions, competitiveness and the capabilities of enterprises.