Unpaid Employees

The economic crisis in Greece has hit hard private sector employees with one million of them remaining unpaid for an average of five months. Nearly half of Greek enterprises owe money to their employees, and only four out of ten employees are receiving their salaries on time. According to studies of the GSEE’s Labor Institute only one out of two Greek enterprises, are paying employees their monthly wages. Meanwhile, the Department of Labour Inspection has traced many cases of employees that are working for more than eight hours, on wages equivalent to that of a part-time job. This of course is happening, due to the fact that the enterprises are declaring their employees as part-timers, even though they are working for eight or more hours.  Moreover, an increasing number of employees and workers lose their job after an official “redundancy warning,” meaning that they lose half of the unemployment allowances they are entitled to. Recession has brought one in two Greek households to live below the poverty level, while half of the employed people earn less than 800 euros a month.

The non-payment of wages is no longer only a private-sector phenomenon, but has extended to the public sector, where many workers are also going without pay. Both the government and parastatal institutions have been complacent about dealing with this issue. The number of workers going for months without wages is on the increase, contributing to the disintegration of the family, higher rates of poverty and greater numbers of the working poor.

This failure to pay what workers are legally entitled to is wage theft, with employers taking money that belongs to their employees and keeping it for themselves. This is a clear violation of international labor standards, as well as national legislation on the employment of workers.

The overall objective of study is to discover the extent of non-payment of wages in the private sectors and its effect on workers and the economy at large.

The specific objectives of the study included:

  1. To investigate and undertake an in-depth analysis of the various types of wage non-payments and to analyze the extent of wage gaps in the private sector.
  2. To assess the actions taken by employees regarding this issue and the results and impact of such actions;
  3. To make recommendations to address the situation of non-payment of wages in Greece.

The study will rely on a triangulation of methods. These included interviews with key stakeholders (trade union officials, trade union members and wives of trade union members), as well as other primary and secondary sources of data.

The study will include field visits to consult with affiliate trade union regional offices, trade union members and affected trade union members’ wives.

Primary research data will come from:

  • Interviews: To solicit inputs on the various aspects of non-wage payment and its impact, interviews were carried out with union leadership, union members and wives of affected male workers.
  • Questionnaires: During the field visits, questionnaires were administered and filled in by affected workers.
  • Key Informants: Key informant interviews were carried out with regional officers and affiliate regional organizers, who are the people who interact with workers on the ground and collect information on working conditions. They will provide firsthand knowledge about the state of workers and companies and gave insight on the nature of problems and recommendations for solutions.
  • Data on companies and workers affected by non-payment: This will provided by the key informants mentioned, who maintain regular contact with workers in the different sectors of the economy and monitor the status of workers in companies.

Research in secondary sources through a desk review will cover all relevant reports and documents available to the researchers. These will include the Labor Act and other government documents, collective bargaining agreements, economic reports and newspaper articles. Specific sources are cited in footnotes or included in the list of references.