Pension fund subsidies are safe, for now

Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos ruled out any abolition of social subsidies, recommended by the Greek Pension Strategy Report, or any changes in the retirement age. «There is no issue of the abolition of social resources and contributions for third parties, as applied by social security funds transferring social resources; we are closing this subject and I think we are absolutely clear,» Panayiotopoulos told a press conference yesterday. The minister reiterated that there is no question of changing the age of retirement, but claimed it would be appropriate for the results of the social dialogue on the social security issue to be judged by the people in the next election. He added that the ministry has repeatedly invited journalism unions to a dialogue on outstanding issues. «The domain suffers from many problems we must reduce and to which we must find find solutions,» Panayiotopoulos said. Asked about demands made on him by Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) representatives in their meeting on Monday, the minister revealed that the industrialists had asked for an increase in group layoffs, but he replied that «such logic is like a slippery slope.» However, he did not refute the existence of a committee or report recommending the solution of ETEAM, the fund that has an auxiliary role to the main Social Security Foundation (IKA) and its reincorporation into the main pension. «There has been no decision made in this direction,» Panayiotopoulos said cryptically. He explained that any changes made to the regulation about heavy and unsanitary professions will only apply to those newly hired in the labor market. «There will be no change for those already working,» he said, adding that some new professions will enter this category while others will be left out. Finally, he challenged anyone who objects to the National Statistics Service (NSS) unemployment figures, also confirmed by Eurostat, to support their claims with facts and data.