Members of armed forces, emergency services protest merging of auxiliary pensions

Members of the armed forces and emergency services protested in central Athens on Wednesday morning and voiced their opposition to plans to merge their auxiliary pension funds with others.

The merger is part of a multi-bill that MPs are due to vote on later in the day. Greece needs to pass the legislation to receive its next bailout sub-tranche of 1 billion euros.

The coalition was already in a dispute with these two groups because it failed to implement a court decision that calls for their wages to be restored to the same level as in 2012, before the government cut them by 10 percent. As a result, members of the armed services and emergency services are considering taking legal action against the government.

Now, the members of the same groups face seeing their auxiliary pensions slashed by as much as 50 percent as a result of the merging of funds. This has prompted a number of high-ranking officers nearing their retirement age to take an early pension.

Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias have conveyed to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras the discontent of the army, navy, air force, police, coast guard and fire service.

In order to lighten the blow, the government amended the relevant legislation in the multi-bill last week so that the reduction in auxiliary pensions for those retiring from the armed forces or emergency services would not be so sudden.

Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said the change was aimed to ensure that “any adjustments happen gradually and over a long period of time.”