Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Old wines in new bottles? From State Regulation to Flexible Working Time Arrangements in Greece

Kretsos, Lefteris and Kouzis, Yannis and Belegri-Roboli, Athena and Markaki, Maria and Michaelides, Panayotis G. (2007): Old wines in new bottles? From State Regulation to Flexible Working Time Arrangements in Greece.

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During the last decades the debate on working time regulation focused on how to achieve greater flexibility at workplace in a way that enhances company adaptability to the volatility of the product markets cycle. For many analysts this change in considering working time mainly as a tool for organizational flexibility was provoked by the multiple restructuring exercises, as well as the increasing interest of employers in controlling working hours that resulted, in turn, in numerous respective collective agreements and alternative working time arrangements at the company level. In many cases, these initiatives were followed by a considerable stagnation in collective working time reductions and were often associated with a support by the State in the sense that greater flexibility in working time schedules is a prerequisite for balancing working and family life and an instrument for economic success. In broad terms no serious changes have taken place in the volume of hours people work in Europe in the 1990s and forward. On the other side, unsocial hours of work have not increased to a great extent and the State still remains the basic architect of national working time regime. Nevertheless employer prerogative on working time determination has increased in many terms and it is more often nowadays to watch trade unions conceding in employers’ demands for extending working week and shopping hours. Considering this situation, it is easy to get confused, as one the one hand no serious changes in national working time regimes are suggested and on the other hand it is argued that employers are more able nowadays to establish their terms and conditions in the bargaining agenda. Our starting point of analysis is that there are national paths and traits of working time changes in Europe. However, we suggest that behind the national variations and distinctiveness of each national case working time changes in Europe are definitely determined by employers’ strategies and their ad hoc needs. In other words, what determines the length and the organization of working hours has basically to do with current and update organizational needs rather than the regulatory framework and the possible militant reaction of trade unions in a proposed change. This argument is tested taking as an example the case of the Greek labour market.

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