ADEDY shows a hardline stance with one-day strike

ADEDY, the public sector union, yesterday staged its third 24-hour strike in two months, trying to force the government to revise its social security reform proposals and to raise public sector wages to eurozone levels. A estimated 4,000 strikers marched through Athens toward Parliament in a show of strength yesterday. Public offices, state hospitals, state-run schools and some flights were affected by the strike. In Piraeus, striking seamen scuffled with port authorities as they tried to prevent ships from sailing, resulting in five injuries. ADEDY had staged two one-day strikes last month to underline its opposition to social security reforms. Ilias Iliopoulos, ADEDY secretary-general, told Kathimerini English Edition that the strike participation rate in the public sector averaged out to about 65 percent. He said the union’s grievances «center principally on the State’s proposed social security reforms.» Unlike private sector umbrella body GSEE, which has achieved an agreement in principle with the government on social security reforms, ADEDY has maintained a hardline stance with its demands for higher pensions and fewer years in work. The union is unhappy with the government’s proposals to reduce benefits for public sector workers. The State plans to gradually slash the replacement ratio (the ratio of pension to wages) to 70 percent from the current 80 percent for public sector employees, starting in 2008. This is, however, offset by higher pensions. Entrants to the workforce from 1993 onward will see their replacement ratio rise to 70 percent from 60 percent. The planned reduction will drive down pensions, Spyros Papaspyros, head of ADEDY, has claimed. He said the benefits of a higher replacement ratio for workers insured from 1993 onward will be lost as they would be paying higher contributions. Critics say the government’s proposals could jack up the social security system’s actuarial deficit, currently estimated at over 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Even businesses and traders have expressed doubts on the government’s claim that its proposals would keep the deficit at low levels. Without reforms, the ailing state-run, pay-as-you-go IKA could see its deficit balloon up to above 9 percent of GDP in 2025. At 12 percent of GDP, Greece’s social security spending is the highest in the eurozone. Greece last revamped the pension system in 1992 with very modest changes. Iliopoulos said ADEDY is also seeking pay raises on par with the average eurozone levels. In addition, the union is not happy with the State’s tax reform proposals. «We expect a response from the government regarding our demands by tomorrow [today],» he said. The general council of ADEDY is scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide the next course of action. The main destinations for Romania’s grain exports, mainly feed wheat, were the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries of Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Algeria and Israel.