Greece’s Finance and Labor Ministries authorities have insisted there are no plans to lower the minimum wage any further after a government official suggested that people being paid 586 euros ($788) a month – before taxes are being paid too much for menial jobs.
Speaking at an insurance conference in Athens, Finance Ministry General Secretary Giorgos Mergos, who receives a lavish salary, suggested that Greece should examine its minimum wage, which was reduced by 22 percent last year under pressure from international lenders, in bid to drive growth by offering employers cheaper labor.
Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis reacted by saying that the minimum wage would remain at its current levels until Greece completes its fiscal adjustment program, which is due to conclude in 2016. The Finance Ministry also said there was no question of the government tampering with the minimum wage.
The government’s swift denials regarding basic pay were not enough to stop the criticism from opposition parties. “He has admitted the coalition government’s real intentions, which is to reduce wages to the same level as Romania and Bulgaria,” said SYRIZA MP Dimitris Stratoulis, who added that a change in legislation last year allows the government to set the minimum wage from April 1, rather than for it to be the product of negotiations between unions and employers.