Trade unions Sek and Peo on Wednesday accused the government of backing down after a broad meeting the previous day at the presidential palace failed to approve the introduction of a minimum wage when it was plagued with arguments.

Peo said that is will not agree to decisions that will introduce cheap and undignified labour.

“We note with great disappointment that the expectations artfully cultivated have flatly collapsed. The meeting at the presidential palace did not yield a positive result on minimum wage.

“There was a regress and retreat on behalf of the government in relation to policy positions expressed at the Labor Consultative Body and the matter was referred to the Ministry of Labour for further processing,” Peo said.

Sek echoed Peo’s disappointment. “[Sek] disagrees with the government’s decision to back down from the methodology determining minimum wage as shaped by Zeta Emilianidou and calls for its reexamination,” the union said.

It said it is firmly committed to introducing a minimum wage as determined by the European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions methodology of €1,727.

The union rejected employer arguments that the introduction of a national minimum wage will threaten the sustainable development of businesses and increase unemployment, countering that the minimum wage will breathe life into all those workers who are underpaid while protecting proper employers from unfair competitors who do not respect and enforce collective bargaining agreements.

Peo stressed that because of the consecutive economic crises of the past period and the reversal in the balance of power between employers and employees, workers with unregulated terms of employment have considerably increased.

It called for the introduction of measures to ensure every employee is covered by a collective agreement, has a guaranteed decent minimum wage, agreed working hours, 13th salary, adjustment of salary based on price index and other basic labour benefits.

“Peo will not consent to arrangements that institutionalise cheap and undignified labour,” it said.

“With the current approach, that portion of employers whose profitability is based on the workers over-exploitation, especially of young and vulnerable workers, are being perpetuated and rewarded,” Peo’s concluded.