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					   Social Dialogue and Regulation of Teleworking in Greece
Although telework has emerged as a new labour and social phenomenon, and is a
growing new form of employment, is a subject which is just beginning to attract
general interest. Consequently, telework is not one of the basic issues on the labour
relations agenda in Greece.

The Institution of Social Dialogue in Greece
Any discussion regarding social dialogue with respect to the issue of teleworking must
be placed in the broader framework of the development of the institution of social
dialogue in Greece. Unlike other countries of the EU, such as France and Germany for
example, social dialogue is an institution new to Greek reality which displays several
particularities. The level of development of social dialogue is to a large degree
intertwined with the corresponding level of mentality and culture of dialogue which is
cultivated in all countries between the social bodies and the state (G. Spyropoulos,
“Social Dialogue in the EU”, lecture at Panteios University on 6.11.97). In this
framework, the stifling control of economic and social policy by the state together
with strong state interventionism in the field of labour relations, in parallel with the
traditional climate of confrontation between the employers and the unions (G. Kouzis,
“The Role of the State in Shaping Collective Labour Relations and Effects on the
Trade Union Movement”, from the collective volume, Social Demands and State
Policies, in the series “Administration and the State”, Sakkoulas Editions, 1995, pp.
63-80), have resulted in non-development of the idea of social dialogue, effective
negotiation and the mentality of participation both on the national and on the
enterprise levels (G. Kravaritou-Manitaki, “Workers’ Participation in Greek
Enterprises”, Sakkoulas Editions, 1986). In recent years, however, and particularly
from the beginning of the 1990s, there have been efforts to develop social dialogue,
for the purpose of seeking consensual procedures and solutions to questions of
economic and social policy. A substantial contribution to this process has been made
by the general acceptance of the need for Greece to join EMU and achieve the goals of
convergence. This is an objective whose achievement is conditional upon the adoption
of a spirit of social consent. One important step towards the development of social
dialogue in Greece has been the creation of the Economic and Social Committee
(ESC) by Law 2218/1994. However, its operation has not, up to now at least, been
utilised to the required degree, through adoption in practice of its unanimous
resolutions (G. Kouzis, “Social Dialogue and Labour Relations,” from the collective
volume “Social Dialogue Issues”, Gutenberg Editions, 2000).

The first real experience of social dialogue in Greece came in 1997 in the framework
of the tripartite social dialogue on the threefold issue of “Development-Competition-
Employment”. This was the first time social dialogue with tripartite participation on
the issues broached was introduced in Greece. From that standpoint, the need for and
the efforts of the parties involved to put forward documentary argumentation on basic
issues of concern to Greek society is undoubtedly one of the positive points.
Nevertheless, the “Pact of Confidence between Government and the Social Partners
on the Way to the Year 2000” which was signed in November 1997 and constitutes
the basic product of this dialogue, has not produced the expected results. This has
been mainly due to the strong opposition which has been registered and the fact that
the parties have remained adamant in their initial positions (Eironline, GR9711138f).

On the basis of the above brief presentation concerning the development of the
institution of social dialogue in Greece, and given that teleworking is not included
among the basic issues on the labour relations agenda in this country, we can explain
the absence of social dialogue from the teleworking issue.

Social Dialogue and Regulation of Teleworking
Regulation of teleworkers’ conditions of employment is contained in the new
industrial relations bill passed by Greek Parliament on 7 August 1998 and published
as Law 2639/98 in the Government Gazette on 2 September 1998. In particular, the
new law on "Regulation of Industrial Relations, Formation of a Labour Inspection
Body and other provisions" stipulates that no dependent labour relation is involved in
agreements between employers and workers involving provision of services or work,
including instances of payment per unit of telework, as long as such agreements are in
writing and are communicated within 15 days to the competent Labour Inspectorate.
Otherwise, for legal purposes the labour relation is assumed to be a dependent one,
and the teleworker is considered to be a full-time contractual employee. It is also
stipulated that nine months after publication of the law enterprises will be obliged to
submit to the Labour Inspectorates a complete list of the teleworkers they employ.
However, it should be noted that although teleworking comes within the regulatory
framework for all atypical forms of employment (outwork, teleworking and
homeworking), it is not defined or broken down into individual types. This means
that teleworking as a new form of work organisation is not a legal category apart from
the traditional forms of provision of services, with all that this entails for regulation of
the terms and conditions of work for teleworkers. In this framework, both the
employer organisations and the trade unions have pointed to the need for a broader
legislative framework which will also regulate other issues related to informal forms
of employment including teleworking, such as issues of social insurance and working
conditions. However, on a long-term basis, it has become necessary to define the
concept of teleworking in order to create the right specific framework for its

(Evangelia Soumeli, INE/GSEE-ADEDY)


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