Richer pensioners gain most
The decision by the new conservative government to abolish a levy on top pensions in favor of poorer pensioners means that the gap in pensions will increase this year as relatively richer pensioners will see their pensions increase by a greater percentage than those at the bottom. Specifically, pensioners earning up to 397 euros per month will see their pensions rise by 4 to 5 percent; those earning from 398 to 500 euros per month will get a 5 to 6 percent rise, while top pensioners, those earning over 1,500 euros per month, will get a rise between 8 and 9 percent, according to data supplied by the union of pension fund employees. Out of a total of 1,318,950 pensioners, 33.9 percent get less than 400 euros per month. About another 25 percent get from 401 to 500 euros per month, while 15 percent earn over 800 per month. Among pensioners insured with the Social Security Foundation (IKA), the fund covering the majority of private sector employees, only 5 percent get a pension higher than 1,000 euros per month. The richest pensioners are to be found mostly among former public utility employees. The highest amounts of pensions – excluding auxiliary pensions – are provided by the pension funds of the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP), followed by the Public Power Corporation, the former Hellenic Bank for Industrial Development – recently acquired and absorbed by the private Piraeus Bank – the former Ionian and Popular Bank – acquired and absorbed by the private Alpha Bank in 1999 – and OTE Telecom. Next in line is the journalists’ pension fund. Only 653,940 pensioners, less than half of the total, get an auxiliary pension. Pensions are low because, until the early 1980s, when the Socialists came to power, 40 percent of all employees were uninsured.