Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the State will launch talks toward reform of the social security system for banking employees early next year. His comments came amid speculation that the government plans to merge the banking fund into the broader social security system for the principal pension and create an auxiliary arm for supplementary payments. Merging the country’s 150-plus pension funds into eight principal schemes and simplifying the regulations governing the various set-ups had formed the central basis of social security reforms proposed by Reppas’s predecessor, Tassos Yiannitsis. Reppas said the State plans to initiate a social dialogue in the hope of forging a consensus on the thorny issue. The minister spoke after a meeting with the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) yesterday. He said the government was concerned only with creating a social security system that is both viable and socially just. Reppas has tread carefully on social security reforms since his appointment to the Labor Ministry last month. He has made a point of visiting trade unionists, industrialists and traders in recent weeks to exchange views, an exercise which has done much to bolster his image. But press reports said the minister’s plans to set up one single system and a supplementary fund for the banking sector has run into funding problems. Other issues relate to the retirement age and the size of benefits to be paid out. During yesterday’s meeting, OTOE members brought up the subject of overtime pay and pay raises. They also urged that labor inspectors intensify checks on workplaces for violations.