ECONOMY

Women’s pension rights

The Greek social insurance system appears fragmented and full of internal inequalities, trade union officials said yesterday. A particular case in point – which the previous ministers of labor and social security aimed to tackle – is the provision for mothers of underage children, where they lead to differences in retirement ages between various funds of as many as 23 years and up to 100 percent in the amount of pension. Such problems were aired at a conference by officials of the Social Insurance Funds Employees Federation (POPOKP) at a conference of women civil servants. They said the differences were the result of pressures exercised by workers in particular sectors and groups, as well as government interventions during the 1990-92 period, which made the system scandalously favorable to women hired before 1982. Taking as a working hypothesis the case of mothers of underage children who were born in 1951 and had worked for 25 years, POPOKP found that differences in pensions were as many as the number of insurance funds. Such women civil servants, for example, will retire at age 44.5, at most, if hired before the end of 1982, and at age 50 if hired after 1983. By contrast such women public sector workers insured with the Social Security Foundation (IKA) must reach age 50 in order to receive an early reduced pension and age 55 for a full pension. Women lawyers meeting the same specifications may retire without age limit, those employed by OTE Telecom at age 44.5, at most, and those employed in journalism at age 46.5. Women working in the Public Power Corporation need to have completed 20 years in service before 1997 in order to retire at 44.5 years of age, or at age 50 if they completed 20 years’ work after 1998. The same working mother can retire at 58 in one fund, at 60 in another four (including those of engineers and the self-employed) and at 65 if she has been a farmer. The Greek social insurance system also seems to ignore the principle of a greater pension for more years of work. A female employee of OTE Telecom with a salary of 300,000 drachmas monthly and aged 44.5 will receive a pension of 210,000 if she was hired before 1982. A colleague hired after January 1, 1983 will receive for the same years of work and social security contributions, 124,000 drachmas. A female civil servant retiring under the same terms will receive either 171,000 or 107,000 drachmas monthly, depending on the date of hiring. By contrast, an IKA pensioner will get 137,200 if retiring at age 55. Women hired after January 1, 1983 will only receive a pension equal to 20-40 percent of their last salary if they choose to retire early. POPOKP said women now in the work force are disadvantaged, compared to their older colleagues, and cannot sustain any further burdens in social security contributions. On the contrary, the terms regarding them should be made more favorable if they are to be helped to play a more active role in the family.