Emporiki staff reject pension overhaul plan

Emporiki Bank’s plan for reducing its sizable financial liabilities to the employees’ social insurance and pension fund, unveiled last week, received a blow yesterday when their union rejected it outright. «Management’s proposal is rejected in its entirety and cannot form the basis of dialogue, as it leads to an overthrow of the present insurance regime,» the union said in a statement. The rejection came after a morning meeting with Emporiki President Giorgos Provopoulos, who had called on employees to engage in constructive dialogue as a solution to the problem was crucial to the future of the bank. He had said management was open to counterproposals. «Those who have rejected the plan bear a huge responsibility, especially when they have made absolutely no alternative proposal,» said Provopoulos after the union’s response. According to the requirements of International Accounting Standards (IAS), which listed companies will have to adopt as of 2005, banks have to deduct their social security obligations against equity capital. Emporiki’s auxiliary pension fund, whose abolition has been proposed by Provopoulos, is burdened with a huge actuarial debt which would seriously dent its equity. The Emporiki plan, if accepted as a basis, was seen as a blueprint for other banks. However, the federation of bank employee unions (OTOE), on Friday warned against piecemeal attempts at reform and called Provopoulos’s plan a «provocation.» It called on banks to put forward a common proposal. Later yesterday, Takis Arapoglou, president of National Bank, Greece’s biggest, rejected the idea of a process of common consultation among banks on the issue.