NEWS

Gov't fails in bid to merge social security funds but privatization bill passed

A bid by the government to merge a number of healthcare funds, including the one for journalists, with a national scheme has failed in Parliament, although the coalition?s privatization bill was approved by MPs on Wednesday.

The government failed to get a majority on its draft law proposing that the social security funds of journalists, civil engineers, lawyers and other be inducted into the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY).

The amendment, attached to the privatization bill, had been submitted to Parliament late on Tuesday, prompting the Panhellenic Journalists? Union (POESY) to call a 24-hour strike as it argues media employees? funds should not be merged with EOPYY because they are self-financing.

Despite the result of the vote, the journalists? strike continued on Wednesday, meaning there was no news coverage on TV and radio. Newspapers, including Kathimerini English Edition will not be published on Thursday as a result of the action.

The union did not rule out further protests as it said that the government is likely to try to resubmit the bill next week.

The bill paving the way for the privatization of public companies such as the Thessaloniki and Athens water companies passed through Parliament, although almost 30 MPs belonging to the three-party coalition failed to back the draft law.

A total of 148 MPs out of 293 that took part in the ballot voted for the sell-off legislation. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis abstained from the vote, prompting speculation about whether the coalition will be able to survive.

It was reported that a number of meetings between government members were to be held on Wednesday evening.

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