Georgia Petraki: The New Working Class

The basic working hypothesis is that while dependent labour represents by now the dominant social condition in Greek society, this is interconnected with the decrease of indigenous working class, the development of salaried technical/scientific/managerial professions which mostly comprise the new middle class, but also with the development of a “new working class” whose statistical representation is imperfect or even inexistent. We define here the “new working class” those layers of workers created as a result of new or even older employment relations, under expansion presently, as a result of the introduction of new technologies in social production and the developments of social and technical division of labour, which is strongly influenced in present day Greek society by the presence in the labour market of a large number of migrants, who live and work in conditions of semi-illegality. Yet the existence of the “new working class” which is in the process of formation in both the urban and the rural areas, is incompletely presented in official registrations, since it either works in unofficial economy (migrants and indigenous workers) or its registration in statistical categories is obscure and imperfect. Our working hypothesis is that in present day Greece, the manual work is performed to a great degree in both the urban and rural areas by migrant populations, whose position in the labour market is characterized by semi-illegality and insecurity. Also, that the degree of migrants’ presence in the manual work is conversely analogous to the degree of skills necessitated by each job category. Moreover, that the general tendency for a decrease of manual work in the total of employment (categories of individual professions STEP 7/8/9) (National Statistical Service of Greece, 1995) is reversed in those categories of unskilled trades for whose needs abundant, reserve and very cheap manual staff can be found. We are speaking mostly of “unskilled workers”, providers of “personal services” and “rural labourers”. The development of those labor categories highlights some of the structural characteristics of Greek economy and society.
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