Answer given by Mr Rehn on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission fully respects autonomous collective bargaining.promoting in the first place wage adjustment via a Tripartite agreement between the government and social partners. Yet, in light of the urgent need of a rapid wage adjustment, direct government legislation on issues that so far have fallen in the remit of collective bargaining, namely the level of the minimum wage, appears justified on an exceptional basis.
2. In those Member States where there is a guaranteed minimum income, its level (for a one-person household) is as a rule set below the one of the minimum wage in order not to discourage work take up. The working poor issue in Greece should not be understated as in-work poverty in Greece is the second highest in the EU (measured on the basis of 2010 data). The situation of the jobless is also crucial and requires action, including with a view to tackle the risk that a too high minimum wage may affect job opportunities for the low skilled. The Commission would also refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Question E‑000889/2012(1).
3. The Commission believes in the importance of social dialogue and good industrial relations, the respect of workers' rights and the autonomy of social partners in collective bargaining. During the implementation of the Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece, it has always aimed at a dialogue with the social partners. Moreover, the Greek Government was urged to promote dialogue with social partners within the framework of the Programme, since an effective social dialogue is a key condition for the adjustment of the labour market to the economic recession and for a workable strategy to restore competitiveness. The Programme encourages more bargaining at firm level and discourages the frequent use of arbitration decisions that characterised wage setting in Greece in the past.