A new list of professions classed as heavy or hazardous, which will go into effect from September 1, was submitted to Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis on Monday.
The list was drawn up by a standing committee of experts and there will follow a period of public debate that must be completed by the end of August. It will initially be implemented for 80 percent of the professions included on the list, while for the remaining professions there will be an additional period of study until the end of the year.
The labour minister stressed that the list was not final and that the ministry has already begun talks with representatives of the employees and employer groups to arrive at a result that was both scientifically correct and socially just.
Up to 100,000 to 120,000 employees will find their jobs removed from the list of heavy and hazardous professions, leaving some 400,000 to 420,000 people insured in this category. There are currently 538,234 wage earners whose jobs are classed as heavy and hazardous, of which 394,817 are men and 143,417 are women.
This number has already been significantly reduced because of large rates of unemployment among construction workers.
Ministry officials have given assurances that the EU-IMF troika has not demanded a reduction down to a specific number and that the criteria for the measure will be entirely scientific.
The committee has proposed specific criteria for deciding the inclusion of a job in this category, with a reassessment every three years. These include the degree of morbidity, mortality and life expectancy associated with each type of job.
Factors contributing to morbidity include rotating shift work, especially working night shifts, exposure to carcinogens or biological pathogens, work at very high or very low altitudes, work outdoors and exposure to high or low temperatures. It also takes into account epidemiological data concerning work-related disease, industrial accidents, work-place stress, the international bibliograpy, theoretical approaches and factual data.
Those off the list include some 60,000 administrative staff working in heavy industry, chemical and pharmaceutical firms, where all employees had previously been included in the heavy and hazardous labour category.
Also removed were street hawkers, domestic servants, those working in modelling, radio announcers, hair dressers and certain jobs in tourism and catering, in addition to certain jobs that no longer exist, such as teletypists and asbestos workers.
On the other hand, the list has been expanded to include farm and fishery workers, nursing staff in public hospitals, scientists and technicians in heavy industry or the chemical industry, metro engine drivers, sanitation workers and others.
The ministry said that employees who are struck off the list but have already amassed 12 years worth of stamps will not find their rights affected by the change. There will also be measures allowing others that don't fully meet the criteria or were only now added to the category to 'buy' more of the special category stamps and thus speed up their retirement.
Koutroumanis noted that the changes were an attempt to resolve an issue that had been outstanding for nearly 10 years, since the last revision in 2002 in a system that had been built up over 60 years without any proper regulation.
GSEE opposed to new list of heavy, hazardous jobs
The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing private-sector workers, on Monday said it was opposed to all reductions in the list of jobs classed as heavy and hazardous.
It claimed that a report submitted to the labour minister by a committee of experts earlier the same day contained a number of points that were unjust and arbitrary.
"What trade unions want and demands is a job market that will ensure the health and physical integrity of the workers and for this reason GSEE has submitted specific proposals that include creating a working hazard committee," a GSEE announcement said.