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Cases of Greece and Sweden Working Conditions Essay

Cases of Greece and Sweden Working Conditions

Introduction

       The essay has three major parts. The first part analyses Greece working conditions and how government officials respond to the issue. This is accompanied by a moral assessment of the issue presented in this section. The second part discusses Sweden working conditions, a country which is said to have one of the best working conditions around the world. This part analyses the policies passed by the Swedish government and all ethical issues arising from such policies. The third part is a personal assessment of the two issues presented parts one and two. This section employs virtues of ethics framework to come up with ethical implications of the issues presented.

Working Condition in Greece

       Greece working standards are relatively lower compared to those of other European countries. Different studies that support this argument have been conducted. From the data provided by the Social Insurance Foundation and Labor Inspectors in Greece, 35.8 percent of the participants in a survey conducted in 2011specified that there were no health and safety provisions in the firm they worked. 48.7% stated that, to their knowledge, there was no physician assigned to them. In the construction sector, 53.5% had a health and safety provision document while 58.9% in the manufacturing sector had the same. 66.1% of the respondents in the public sector said they lacked such a document (Alexopoulos 2012, p.115).

       In its efforts to raise labor standards in Greece, the Greece government initiated several reforms. The reforms aimed at improving working conditions in the country and protecting people’s welfare. Greece is of the countries which experienced the wrath of European crisis. The aftermath of the crisis required tremendous changes in the labor markets. However, these reforms led to limited protection of workers in the labor market. This aspect violated business ethics and essential social rights. Law number 3863/2010 introduced fundamental changes in the labor market. Some of the unfavorable reforms were; shortening the period given as a notice to the termination of white-collar workers, reducing white-collar workers reduced by a half, keeping operational costs must between 5% and 10%, which led to layoffs. However, the minimum wage rates for workers under the age of 25 years reduced to 84% of the set minimum wage. For underage workers, the minimum wage rate set at 70% of the set minimum wage.

       Apart from the labor market reforms, the government instituted in 2010, service cuts in pension and other important reforms in the social security regulations. The regulations include; zero increase in the current pension over the next 3 years. For the uninsured persons over the age of 65, their basic pension criteria underwent reforms. The amount of the pension is set at €360. The national budget will finance the pension from the year 2018. Salary cut for employees between 25 years was set between 22% and 32%. The employer can impose this cut without the consent of the employee (Matsaganis 2012, p.450).

Analysis of Ethical Implications of Greece Work Policies

       Greece policy makers seem to employ utilitarian principle, which states that one determines what is right by contrasting the outcome of all related agents of alternative policy for a particular condition (Bentham 2000, p.70). This principle does not take into account all the people in the society. Undesirable policy can be passed which does not benefit the society at large. Greece labor laws and polices does not seem to benefit the entire society. On the contrary, they benefit a section of the community.

       According to (Daluka 2001, p.20) it is right to exercise what is good for the largest population of people. The study reveals that the greatest number of people in the work environment had the health and safety document. Companies in Greece seem to value policies that yield the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. However, James Rachel, critic of the utilitarian rule, would have argued otherwise. In his criticisms, he points out that, everyone is equal and that everybody’s happiness is important. The group of people who lack the document in this case can claim that businesses in Greece did violate business ethics. This means that utilitarianism is not the best framework to formulate rules and regulations which affect the entire society. Labor markets affect the whole economy in several ways .This means that if there is a fault in formulation of labor laws, the economy will experience problems arising from shortage of labor, a crucial factor in the production process (Rachel 2007, p56). Greece labor reforms further show how the government violates ethics. A salary cut without the consent of employees is unethical, and violates ethics. However, according to utilitarianism, this might not be a big issue so long as it yields maximum benefits to the largest number of people. According to (Goodin 2007, p.245) utilitarianism as a principle should guide political leaders while making decisions that affect the society at large. He points out that leaders must take into account the impacts of the policies they pass on the entire society, other than focusing on a small group of people.

Working Conditions in Sweden

       Working conditions in Sweden are one of the best on the planet. This is the case because the government has introduced strict worker-safety and environmental regulations. Its manpower of 4.3 million is disciplined, instructed, and experienced in the most current technologies. About 87 percent of Swedish laborers have a place with a worker’s party, ostensibly the world’s most astounding rate. In addition, unions are active accomplices with organizations in actualizing more proficient projects. Swedish enactment accommodates work representation on the board of directors of large organizations and obliges administration to arrange with the unions prior to actualizing significant changes. Management-labor cooperation participation is customarily non-conferential, meaning labor strikes are rare in the country (Cox 1950, p.390). There is no fixed minimal wage, and all wages are determined through collective bargaining. Since 1991, the real wage increments have surpassed those of most EU nations. As the EMU civil argument picks up force, worker’s parties are calling for buffer funds, like those made in Finland, as a “cushion” for benefits funds and other laborer benefits throughout the shift period to the euro, in cases where there are huge currency fluctuations (Hammarström 2013, p.142).

       Many business spectators, including those from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have suggested some crucial labor market changes, including wage differentiation (to reduce labor costs for unskilled jobs). These reforms are an incentive to raise individual competence, reduction of income taxes, making labor unions bears the costs of unemployment in the insurance system, as well as liberalization of labor protection legislation. These measures are believed to increase efficiency and competitiveness. Labor representatives in Sweden complain that such measures would burden workers.

       On the major Sweden’s labor- related issue is high levels of unemployment. Within a very short time in the early 1990s, the unemployment rate rose from a level which was considered the lowest in the industrialized world to the normal EU levels, where it stayed until the business cycle improved in 1998-99. By 2000, the unemployment rates were less than 5%. However, the rate was 8.7 percent for those workers included in training programs. Sweden’s government has a plan to reduce the unemployment rate to 4 percent and to guarantee that 80 percent of the working-age populace has a full-time work by 2015 (Drobnic 2012, p.205).

Assessment of the issue and its ethical Implications

       A careful examination of Sweden’s labor laws and policies shows that the policy makers employ social justice. This is clearly depicted the way polices have been formulated. According to (Betham 2000, p.80) social justice theory asserts that people should exercise fairness in their when dealing with one another. Rawl’s theory of social justice postulates that the society consists of free and equal persons who must be treated equally in political and socio-economic affairs (Blocker 2000, p.30). Swedish government seems to take into account social justice principles before passing labor regulations.

       First, the government has come up with strict anti-discrimination laws, contained in Swedish Antidiscrimination Act of 2009. One of the rules of social justice theory is protection against any form of discrimination. By passing the Act, Swedish legislature took into account the rights and freedoms of workers. Therefore, their rules and decisions are in line with the social justice framework. The Act aims at eliminating discrimination in all places of work. It applies to all employees, employers, and job applications irrespective of whether or not the discrimination is intentional. This means that people expect to be treated with dignity, regardless of their appearance or beliefs. If an employer in Sweden is found discriminating his/her workers, he or she is required to pay damages. Failure to this, he/she may end up in prison, and this acts as a lesson to all others who practice discrimination.

       On the other hand, Swedish government has made it mandatory for all workers to belong to a labor union (Blau and Khan 1999, p130). This is aimed at protecting the welfare of all workers in Sweden. This is another dimension of social justice. If a member of the union faces a problem, the union is supposed to take care of him/her. All members of the unions are treated equally. This ensures that all of them have equal representation. Rawl’s theory disallows unequal representation in political and social matter.

       Swedish Work Environment Authority is governed by the Work Environment Act, which requires employees, employers and equipment suppliers to share responsibility in maintaining safe working conditions. According to this Act, these parties should restrict workplace hazards and prevent accidents. This clearly shows that the policy makers take into consideration the importance of social cooperation. Social justice principles require each person in the society to benefit others, and to prevent harm. This way, social justice is said to prevail in the society.

Individual Moral Assessment of the Issue

       To better understand moral implications of the cases presented above, a careful analysis using a different ethical framework is necessary. This section discusses how the issues presented above relate to the ethics of virtue framework.

       According to Martha Nussbaum arguments, a just society must be characterized by conditions that promote fundamental entitlements for all people. The entitlements include; bodily health, normal life, bodily integrity, senses and imaginations, as well as practical reason, just to mention a few. Failure to recognize these entitlements constitutes unethical behavior (Nussbaum 1993, p 89) . Greece law makers seem to deviate from this moral framework. Some of the policies do not take into account virtues of ethics. For example, cutting an employee’s wage without his/her consent is morally wrong. It hurts one’s feeling and violates virtues of ethics such as kindness, prudence, integrity, and more importantly respect. Passing laws that lower people’s welfare is not consistent with the virtue ethics framework.

       On the other hand, Sweden takes into consideration virtues of ethics framework. The laws and polices discussed above clearly show how that policy makers in the country are very much concerned with people’s welfare. Being mindful of others welfare is a crucial virtue. It ensures respect in the society and promotes justice. Moreover, Swedish government promotes fairness in worker’s representation. Again, this is a clear indication of the government’s commitment to promote virtues which promote people’s moral excellence and their well-being.

Conclusion

       From the analysis presented in this paper, it is clear that governments across the world employ different ethical frameworks when formulating their policies. The distinction between Greece and Sweden working condition reveals that different countries value different policies. However, the paper points out several unethical practices in Greece. On the other hand, Sweden government seems to follow ethics when drafting their laws and regulations. In addition to this, the paper reveals that people and companies’ ethical understanding across the world tend to be influenced by government’s actions. This means that Swedish citizens tend to practice ethics more than Greece citizens.

References

       Alexopoulos, E. (2012), ‘Sickness absence in the private sector of Greece: Comparing shipyard industry and national insurance data, International journal of environmental research and public health , Journal of Social Affairs, Vol. 34, pp, 1171-1181.

Betham, J.(2000), ‘Principles of Morals and Legislation,’Principles of Morals and Legislation. Newyork: Botache Books, pp.78-85.

Blau, F., and Khan, L. (1999), ‘Institutions and laws in the labor market’ Handbook of labor economics, vol.3, pp.130-140.Blocker, G. and Elizabeth S. (2000), ‘John Rawls’ theory of social justice’, Sages Journals ,pp. 24-34.

Cox, A.,(1950), ‘Regulation of Collective Bargaining by the National Labor Relations Board’ Harvard Law Review, pp.389-432.

Daluka, F. (2001), ‘Global Ethics and Business: A Philosophical Approach’, Global Ethics and Business: A Philosophical Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 17-20.

Drobnič, S.(2012), ‘Good job, good life? Working conditions and quality of life in Europe’, Social indicators research, pp.205.

Gordin, S. (2007), ‘Utilitarianism as a public philosophy,’ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.,

Hammarström, A. (2013), ‘Higher education and psychological distress: A 27-year prospective cohort study in Sweden’, Scandinavian journal of public health. Pp.140-145.Matsaganis, M..(2012), ‘Social policy in hard times: The case of Greece’, Critical Social Policy, pp.406-421.

Nussbaum, M. (1993), ‘The quality of life’, NewYork: Oxford University Press.

Rachel, J.(2007), ‘Utilitarianism; for and against’, Havard Journal Of Business Affairs, pp. 56

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