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Greek Employers, Union Ask to Keep Bonuses, Minimum Wage Levels

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Greek employers and the country’s biggest private sector union have called on Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to resist pressure to cut the national minimum wage and holiday allowances.

Three private sector employer groups and the union, GSEE, sent Papademos a letter after meeting yesterday, according to a copy of the letter e-mailed by GSEE. The European Union and International Monetary Fund have demanded a reduction in the minimum wage and bonuses paid at Christmas and Easter to lower labor costs and improve competitiveness.

“Competitiveness at the national level is influenced far more by other factors than wage costs, such as bureaucracy bred by over-regulation, state intervention, taxation, corruption and an anti-business attitude,” the letter said, adding that the private sector wage bill fell by 14.3 percent in 2010 and 2011.

The letter was also sent to the leaders of the three political parties supporting Papademos’s interim government. Greece and an EU/IMF mission are trying to finalize conditions attached to a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) financing package agreed on Oct. 26.

Talks with the EU and IMF officials are “in the final phase,” government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis said in an interview with Real FM radio today, according to an e-mailed transcript from his office.

GSEE opposed a proposal by the National Confederation of Commerce, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises and the GSEVEE federation representing small businesses, to freeze private sector wages over the next two years, according to the letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Bensasson in Athens at mbensasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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