Greece has been dominating global financial news headlines for months, and the economic turmoil that characterizes this southern European nation has put it at odds with the Eurozone. That Greece is heavily in debt, with further austerity measures being endorsed by the 300-member Greek parliament, is testament to the collective bargaining strength of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The chemical industry makes up just 5% of the manufacturing sector in Greece, but it is responsible for the employment of over 17,000 workers. The chemicals sector in Greece generates annual turnovers of €2 billion, but since most businesses are not producers of the raw chemicals, the national industry is made up of consumers. Greece presently exports up to 15% of the chemicals it produces.
With the economic upheaval that has hit the country, it is the smaller chemical companies that are struggling. Adapting to new economic realities is proving difficult to an industry that relies on substantial international and domestic investment. Demand suffered in 2014 and there was no sign of a recovery in the works. Banking regulations have further stifled demand domestically and cut export potential too.
Among the many concerns for workers in the Greek chemicals industry are safety worries and long hours. Now that certain sectors have been excluded as heavy/unhealthy, many chemical industry workers are being required to work an additional 5 years before retirement for pension purposes. Since so many companies shuttered at the height of the financial crisis, and in its aftermath, many people lost their jobs. Widespread malfeasance and corruption ensued, with bank loans being used for personal purposes instead of saving, and faltering chemical companies.
Now there are initiatives to increase exports in order to boost turnover on a multinational level. The continuation of euro usage will be a big boon to the Greek chemicals industry, but rocky roads lie ahead as the debt to GDP ratio remains untenable for the country. Based on future projections, there is likely to be a downward movement for the Greek chemicals industry. For the European chemicals industry however, the outlook is likely to be more bullish.