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Bank employees protest against the healthcare reform

24 October 2012 / 19:10:23  GRReporter
2491 reads

Victoria Mindova

A large number of bank branches in Greece closed on Wednesday after employees in the banking system announced a 24-hour strike. They are protesting against the merger of their health insurance fund with the National Organization for Health Care Provision.

Currently, the capital of the bank employees’ fund is 130 million euro and the contributions of workers and employers has created it. "We do not want our savings to go to fill the holes of the already failed National Organization for Health Care Provision," the president of the trade union of bank employees Stavros Koukos told GRReporter. "Neither the government, nor the lenders, nor the employers will stop us fighting to preserve the sustainability of our health insurance fund. They must understand that they are playing with fire," Koukos said menacingly.

Bank employees have conducted research showing that an independent health care fund can be established. It will not burden the state budget and will exclusively serve the health needs of employees in the banking sector.

The government's budget consolidation programme provides for the unification of all branch funds in one. The merger process has been largely implemented already as the government had established last year the single National Organization for Health Care Provision. First, health funds with large deficits were merged and then, the other insurance companies had to be united. Bank employees have developed a project to establish a new health fund as an independent legal body but according to local analysts, the government is unlikely to accept it.

Meanwhile, the issue of banks’ recapitalization remains on the agenda. The financial support to them has been postponed due to the delays in negotiating the final version of the fiscal adjustment with the lenders of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. The tranche Greece is awaiting is to the amount of 31.5 billion euro. 24 billion of this  sum will be allocated to financial institutions as at the beginning of the year, banks suffered losses from the restructuring of the Greek debt held by private investors (PSI +).

This week, Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras had to twice postpone his meeting with the Union of Greek Banks. The talks between bankers and Stournaras will take place on Monday, when the two parties must specify the timeframe of recapitalization processes. According to the available information, banks must officially announce their needs for additional state funding by the end of this year. Then, the data will be revised and by the end of April 2013, banks will gradually receive the funding they need from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund in order for them to meet the requirements for minimum capital exposure.

The recommendation of Europe urged the Bank of Greece to require financial institutions to strengthen their capital positions by the spring. They must build up an exceptional and temporary buffer such that their capital adequacy (Core Tier 1) reaches a level of 9% of capitalization. In addition, from banks it will be required that the exceptional capital buffer against sovereign debt exposures be reflected in market prices.

Tags: EconomyStrikeRecapitalizationFinancial aidGreek banksHealth funds
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