Greece adopts migrant labour law amid legalisation row
The Greek government forces through migrant worker law despite party dissent, citing "critical" farm labour needs.
Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis, speaks during an exclusive interview in Athens, Greece on December 9, 2023. (Photo by Costas Baltas/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Greece’s conservative government on Tuesday pushed through a controversial law offering limited legal status to migrant workers, overriding the opposition of several of its own lawmakers including a former prime minister.
Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis has said the legalisation move is purely labour-related. It is aimed at those who arrived in Greece before 2021 and have been working illegally.
The temporary legal status will only be valid for a one-off three-year period and applies to those already with job offers from employers.
Some 30,000 migrants are expected to benefit, mainly from Albania, Georgia and the Philippines, according to the migration ministry, addressing serious labour shortages in the farm sector.
The government made approval of the bill a party discipline priority for ruling New Democracy party MPs, after former prime minister Antonis Samaras last week announced he would not vote in favour.
Legal migration can be an “investment lever… if we do not utilise it, we risk dropping our growth rate,” Kairidis said.
He said that during a recent initiative offering to move jobless Greeks from the north to work in Crete, just two people showed interest.
“There are many jobs that Greeks will not do, just as the Italians and Spaniards will not,” Kairidis said.
“We are not the exception for not going to (work in) the fields. We are the rule,” Labour Minister Adonis Georgiadis told parliament Tuesday, pointing to similar trends in France, Italy and Spain.
Kairidis over the weekend told parliament that according to MPs representing agricultural regions, Greece risked losing up to two billion euros ($2.2 billion) from this year’s olive crop without extra labour hands.
As of October, there are over 750,000 migrants legally residing in Greece according to migration ministry data.
© Agence France-Presse