BUSINESS

Labor Ministry in race against time to legislate pension reforms, changes to strike rules

ROULA SALOUROU

TAGS: Economy, Politics

The list of prior actions the Labor Ministry must implement ahead of the third review of the country’s third bailout includes reforms in the field of social benefits and pensions, along with changes in the decision-making process for strikes by workers’ unions.

According to the agreement signed by the government and Greece’s international lenders, the ministry must implement major reforms with regard to the country’s social benefits system which will be felt by beneficiaries. The ministry must move ahead with the implementation of five reforms in the areas of social benefits, namely family allowances, disability benefits, education, housing allowances and transport, in the coming months.

Tellingly, it has already been decided that several benefits will be slashed in a bid to save a total of 259 million euros in the 2017-18 period.

The introduction of reforms in the area of family allowance benefits, as well as disability assistance, must take place by November 2017. These measures will be preceded by a pilot project that will calculate disability allowances by factoring in the assessment of a person’s ability to perform activities in his or her everyday life. A key role in the pilot project is expected to be played by a World Bank report which will reportedly be submitted to the ministry in the near future.

At the same time, the ministry is faced with tight deadlines for the implementation of a series of prior actions regarding social security. The effort to calculate and start paying out at least 70,000 new main pensions, as well as preparations for a uniform system to collect contributions and taxes, are most pressing among these.

In terms of labor law, the ministry has to pass legislation by October that will lead to more employees being required to take part in union decisions resulting in strike action.

Legislation on transport allowances must be carried out before November so that it can be enforced in 2018 along with that concerning electronic tickets.

Meanwhile, reforms in education benefits must be implemented in October, while changes regarding housing allowances will have to to be completed in September.

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