P.O.E.S. – Health and Safety at Work (Day Update)

SUBJECT: Health and Safety at Work (Event Update)
REL.: a. Law 3850/2010 (Official Gazette A’ 84, “Sanction of the Code of Laws on the health and safety of workers”)
b. SYA HYPTHA 2022
c. Our document No. 1461/2022
d. Our document No. 1027/2023
e. Our document No. 1170/2023
f. Our document No. 1432/2023
Mr. Minister.
Our Federation wishes to officially congratulate the Ministry for the innovative organization of the Conference on Health and Safety at Work, to which we were honored to be invited, representing, in fact, the entire military.
As we are sure you are well aware, Health and Safety at work is very high on our agenda as it relates to every factor of everyday life. For this reason it is one of the most frequently raised issues, to which unfortunately we never receive any answer and certainly no solution.
We have to admit that the presentation of the topics on the agenda by all the speakers, especially during the first two phases of the Conference, caused us a particular impression, but also intense reflection. Both feelings were provoked, because we found that what we constantly highlight are not only our conclusions, but also those of the Ministry, all the competent bodies and organizations (Independent Labor Inspection Authority, EU-OSHA, GSEE, ELINYAE, etc.), and even the institutional representatives of the employer.
However, at the same time we found with concern that it was confirmed that Health and Safety at Work is nothing more than the “cheapest” means of not hurting business revenues. And according to the current framework, EDs are subject to the same regulatory and institutional framework as businesses, with the difference that their daily life is not measured by revenue. From this point of view, we were quite troubled by the fact that the direction of the Conference moved basically towards the private sector, while the regulatory and institutional framework also concerns the State as a whole, which due to its general, gradual weakening at all levels owes to be just as much the center of attention, if not more so.
At the top of our positive conclusions, we clearly rank the general acceptance of the importance played by psychosocial factors, for the full recognition of which our Federation has fought hard and is in consultation with the competent Deputy Minister, Mr. Spanakis. We also recorded additional common findings, such as the need to strengthen control mechanisms, the correct recording of problems accompanied by financial support for solutions, the practical support of Safety Technicians and Occupational Doctors and, of course, above all, the change in culture, starting from the high levels of each Administration. We consider that these points are only some of the central points of the Conference, which fully confirmed the conclusions and remarks of our Federation. It is now clear that the common ground from which we all seem to start indicates the extent, but also the importance of the problem, combined with the necessity of establishing immediate solutions.
However, all the special interests that were developed have a common component, which we discussed on the sidelines of the discussions with a number of institutional and non-institutional persons: they have absolutely no application to ED, no matter how many assurances to the contrary are given. This will be our big bet, during the KNYAE upgrading processes, to convince that the EDs need something more than paragraph 2 of article 2.
Indicatively, in order to fully understand the extent of the problem in terms of EDs, we will mention three examples:
a. In your post, you spoke of the non-negotiable adherence to the law and the need to strengthen the Independent Labor Inspection Authority. As for the direction of the measures, you recalled the publication of the Ministry of Health for the protection of workers from heat stress during the summer months. Therefore, it is worth reminding us that, around the same period, the GEETHA instituted with an Order which may have had as a possible criterion the ability to regulate the temperature of the air conditioner, the mandatory use of the daily business uniform with rolled-down sleeves in any circumstance. Practically, this implies that, executives who:

they work inside Warships (inside sheet metal, even in areas with increased temperature such as engine rooms),
carry out forest protection patrols under the sun by car (which, as we have shown, basically do not meet basic requirements),
work outdoors in the sun,

they must walk around in exactly the same clothing worn by executives working in air-conditioned offices, which is the same uniform worn in the winter months.
b. Mr. Deputy Minister very aptly commented in detail on another issue that we strongly highlight, that of the observance of Individual Medical Files. However, as we have proven, Individual Medical Files are either not maintained at all, or are improperly maintained, while their new form does not comply with the current regulations on the protection of personal data since it requires a signed acknowledgment of the content by the Administration. The non-compliance with the AIF results in the impossibility of checking the working military personnel by an Occupational Physician, so that the possible necessity of a change in the working environment (adaptation of work) can be investigated, as the law stipulates. To combine with the issue of sleeves down under all conditions, in an era (where as confirmed by the speakers) heart disease has increased, for ED staff there is no possibility of relating any health problems to environmental conditions.
c. Mr. Deputy Minister emphasized the importance of consultation, which is certainly true, and as proof of this he rightly referred to the Conference, announcing further dialogue with sectoral characteristics. However, how ironic is the fact that, within the ED, the military are institutionally excluded from the same consultation and participation in the OHS committees, so that the problems in their field of work are not heard? In fact, in order to avoid misunderstandings, in the 2022 SYA HYPETHA (as well as the 2007 equivalent) there is an explicit provision for participation in the Health and Safety Committees of the Workers (OHSE) “only for the political staff of the HYPETHA” (Procedures SYA-01/ 5.3 and 5.4). In a twist of irony, even contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders are consulted, but not the military, who are mired in bureaucratic entanglements combined with systematic non-compliance with the law.
We will repeat that we consider it a very positive sign that almost all the speakers confirmed that it is not enough just to have laws, but that they must also be observed, as well as harmonized with European legislation, at the same time as the strengthening of control mechanisms. In the case of EDs, the problem takes on an additional necessity related to ensuring equality (which is not the case for the military), compliance with labor legislation (generally and specifically) and, above all, the possibility of full access to control mechanisms.
Therefore, it becomes obvious that, as far as EDs are concerned, the process of revising the anachronistic or obsolete provisions of the KNYAE, must not only review in order to update the existing health and safety framework, but also ensure the control of compliance of the Administration, according to You start by eliminating anachronistic general concepts, such as “business activities”.
Mr. Minister.
Our Federation recently, on the occasion of an open debate in which you were the protagonist, asked you if the law (3850/2010) is being respected and of course you did not answer. We didn’t expect you to answer. At the time, of course, we could not have known that the Ministry was planning a relevant Consultation Day with the social partners, where, among other things, there would be an open admission from all sides about problems in observing the law. However, after the Conference we think you can understand why we asked the aforementioned general but very specific question: EDs are a place where working military personnel are not allowed to have a voice. However, they remain employed and even under toxic and unfavorable working conditions. The increasing number of resignations, as well as the relatively frequent occurrences of health problems or even deaths compared to the past, leave little room for misinterpretation.
Under this heavy shadow which obviously does not concern only EDs, a self-evident critical question must be asked: since the findings from all sides were largely common, how likely is the establishment of a new framework to approach the problems from the same point of view (employees and employers)? Because in order for there to be a convergence of solutions, there must necessarily be support at an economic level, something that was raised as a problem in many cases. If there is no financial support, then solutions will necessarily vary by stakeholder group.
In the ED, the military work under different legal status even under the same working conditions (eg with civilian personnel in terms of heavy and unhealthy). Also, they work under a regulatory and institutional framework that concerns businesses, industries, civil facilities (eg shipbuilding repair zones based on the STAKOD classification). As we have shown repeatedly, they work with complete flexibility (sometimes to the point of cancellation) even of fundamental human rights or institutional provisions, such as the organization of working time.
In the ED (indicatively last summer with the increased temperatures), if an executive with cardiac problems who has not been checked by an Occupational Physician, as he would be patrolling forest areas for third parties, in cars without air conditioning even though they are supposed to have them, they would raise the sleeves during hot days because he might feel discomfort, he would automatically be in disciplinary breach and the officer should be properly checked by the Service. If his cardiac problem is certified, there is a risk (depending on the extent) that he will be fired for health reasons, instead of adapting the work to the person, i.e. based on the problem he may be facing. If he complains via facebook, there is another (recent) order imposing censorship, thus creating conditions for a new disciplinary offense. And anyone who disagrees with the initial order concerning the working conditions, must first execute it and then report complaining according to the internal procedures. This is a very simple example that shows how tight EDs are even at the simplest level of measurement.
From the Conference, what we kept with the greatest emphasis, due to its importance, is that the right of workers to a safe working environment is a fundamental human right. In this spirit, in the near future our Federation will table and gradually bring back various proposals based, not only on our consultation with the military on a daily basis (since we receive complaints on a daily basis), but also mainly based on the professional know-how that we have, since the chairman of the Board of Directors of POES is a Security Technician with many years of experience.
In any case, we call on you to defend with action the right of workers to a safe working environment, so that we are not required to come back publicly with questions of the type “if the law is followed”, because it is self-evident that the law must be followed, mandatorily, from all.
We remain at your disposal for any clarification or information.
Messrs. Members of the Hellenic Parliament, to whom this is communicated, are requested to highlight the matter, through parliamentary control.

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