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Social security dialogue started

26 November 2009 / 17:11:23  GRReporter
2419 reads

Marina Nikolova

The first meeting between Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos and trade union representatives took place today. They discussed the way the dialogue will be held from now on. The Ministry took the responsibility to present to the trade unions all data it has about the amounts the state pays for social security and announced that in December the provisions for flexible labor reforms will be discussed.

Minister Loverdos noted that in 2008 €850 million have been deposited in addition, in order to support the social security system and in 2009 the additional financing amount increased three times. The Minister said once again that the government will pass measures, which will add money in the budget and in the social security system by revealing tax evasion, decreasing healthcare expanses and fighting off “under the counter” jobs.

No one will be surprised by the measures, because all provisions passed by the government will be discussed in advance with all social partners and trade unions.

The idea of Minister Loverdos for the upcoming negotiations includes a proposal for the creation of a 9 member commission – four government representatives, four trade union and employer federation representatives. They will propose and vote for a chairman of the commission and Minister Loverdos offered the trade unions and the employer federation to propose a person by December 4, 2009, so that the commission can start its sessions from December 8. Minister Loverdos proposed the Commission to come up with a standpoint by April 30, 2010 and by then the Ministry will process all data, so all necessary actions and legislative initiatives should be taken. The expert Commission will have to offer two options for a solution in the social security system – main and an alternative.

Deputy Minister Georgios Koutroumanis noted that when we talk about pensions, we should keep in mind three parameters: age limit and the method of calculating the pensions and contributions amounts. According to the deputy Minister of Labor the true problem lays in financing retirement funds and the dialogue needs to revolve around it.

On the other hand GSEE trade union chairman Yannis Panagopoulos said that it is very wrong to believe that the problem of the retirement funds is fiscal and not political and social. He noted that in order for the dialogue to be productive, it needs to be done fast but not superficial. Mr. Panagopoulos also said that 55% of the pensions, which are given by the retirement fund IKA are €550, when the average salary in Greece is €667 – an amount extremely low for a country member of the EU. The GSEE chairman offered four topics of discussion:

-       Financing the retirement fund – including topics concerning tax evasion and motivating employees to deposit their retirement fees.

-       Uniting all retirement funds and making them into three: fund for employees with salaries, fund for people paying their own insurances and fund for farmers.

-       Organizational topics

-       Support for retired people with low pensions – proposal for the revision of the payment method of social assistance allowances.

In connection to this Mr. Panagopoulos offered all topics concerning the retirement system to be connected with t a development strategy – for example, employers need to be controlled and forced to pay social security to their employees and the state needs to pass measures, in order to support mothers, which will provide security to families. Finally Mr. Panagopoulos offered the creation of a Generation Fund.

“Reform in the social security system will not solve the problem with the demographic crisis, just like education does not solve the unemployment problem,” said ADEDI trade union chairman Spiros Papaspiros, who set a condition that in order for ADEDI to continue its participation in the dialogue, the government needs to present all data it has. He also added that the commission Minister Loverdos is offering will complicate the subject even more in long term plan.

By the end of the meeting Minister Loverdos said that he will distribute all data the Ministry has regarding the additional payments the state did for social security before the next meeting and in December discussed will be the provisions, which will be introduced in the parliament about the flexible labor reforms. 

Tags: Social security in Greece Retirement
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