The stereotype of the lazy Greek worker, putting in long hours but not producing much, and not declaring everything to the taxman, has dogged the country’s efforts to get international sympathy.
And this cliché has permeated public opinion elsewhere. Greece is perceived as the least hard-working country in Europe by the British, the Germans, the Spanish, Poles and Czechs, according to a recent survey by Pew. Greeks who were surveyed pointed the finger at Italy as the laziest country.
Yet the picture is far from clear-cut. Greeks have less vacation time, and their retirement age is rising from the current average of 61 under the terms of the bailout.
The average Greek worker puts in 2,017 hours per year, more than any other European country. This is partly because there are more self-employed people, who tend to work longer hours, and fewer part-time employees to drag down the average.
There is also a problem with low productivity, particularly in the public sector, which employs around one-fifth of the population. Asked about the public sector, workers in the private sector mutter darkly about inefficiencies.
As the economic crisis deepens and the second Greek election in two months looms on Sunday, CNBC met plenty of Greeks who are belying the stereotype of laziness working without being paid.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page