GSEE and government to start new round of social security talks

GSEE, the umbrella trade union body, yesterday said it was open to the idea of a funded system for supplementary social security funds but insisted on state administration for the scheme as well as for the main pension fund. Trade unionists are scheduled to meet with Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas today to present their proposals for social security reforms. The social dialogue was relaunched last week after last year’s talks floundered following two general strikes. In an attempt to put pressure on the government, trade unions have programmed a rally in Athens on Thursday. GSEE’s executive council met yesterday and drafted a list of its recommendations, among which was that supplementary funds be allowed to convert to a funded system and companies be permitted to set up group schemes, a proposal in line with Reppas’s stand. Unlike the minister, however, the unionists want workers and pensioners to manage the supplementary fund under the government’s supervision, thereby ruling out a role for private pension funds. Reppas has suggested that the administration be gradually transferred over to the private sector. The council also reiterated its positions on the principal fund, namely that it remains a pay-as-you-go, state-run system and that funding be tripartite in the ratio of 3:2:4 for the state, workers and employers. GSEE also underlined its opposition to any attempt to raise the retirement age. The government wants to implement a common age limit for both men and women. Under last year’s proposal, the retirement age was to be raised to 65 for both sexes. Retirement ages currently differ for different categories, with men generally retiring at 65 and women at 60. Trade unionists also called for the maintenance of present pensions and an improvement of low pensions. They also signaled their willingness to the eventual merger of the 150-odd funds into three principal schemes for workers, the self-employed and farmers. One contentious issue remains state funding for the social security system. Although the government has said it plans to contribute to funds, it has yet to specify the size of its input or the source of the funding.

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