GSEE split along political lines over pension reforms

GSEE, the umbrella trade union body, yesterday found itself split into different camps over the issue of social security reforms, as factions affiliated to opposition parties voted against the State’s proposals and called for strike action in coordination with ADEDY, the public sector union. The divisions within GSEE came a day after trade unionists reached agreement with the Labor Ministry on a wide-ranging number of issues, including that pensions would be calculated according to the five best years of the worker’s last 10 years. The discord among trade unionists could jeopardize the State’s plans to table its social security reform proposals in Parliament later this month. GSEE’s council yesterday voted against the government’s proposals, claiming that they do not ensure the viability of the social security system. The vote, however, was marred by the absence of the faction affiliated to ruling party PASOK, led by GSEE head Christos Polyzogopoulos, which walked out before the count began. Polyzogopoulos subsequently slammed the proceedings, calling it «a shame» that political expediency was nullifying the positive gains made thus far on social security reforms. He cast doubts on the vote, noting that only 22 members out of 45 cast their ballot. He also refuted the council’s call for strike action, saying it was not binding on him and the organization and that he would stand by the general council’s previous decision authorizing him to continue talks with the government. The GSEE faction affiliated with opposition party New Democracy criticized the State’s funding proposals as inadequate. «The government’s proposals do not ensure funding for the system, they abolish the tripartite funding structure and lead to lower pensions,» it said. It insisted that GSEE stick to its original demand for tripartite funding and that the State make good on its debts to IKA, the principal social security system. The council also agreed to team up with ADEDY to launch a 24-hour strike to coincide with parliamentary discussion of the contentious legislation. In contrast to the discord at GSEE, a large majority of trade unionists at ADEDY yesterday voted to continue with more strike action in protest against social security reforms. The public sector union staged a one-day strike last Wednesday, the third in two months, underlining its hardline stance against the proposed reforms. Civil servants said plans to reduce the replacement ratio (the ratio of pensions to salary) to 70 percent from the current 80 percent would lead to smaller pensions, despite an increase in final benefits. ADEDY also said it plans to send a letter to the parliamentary speaker, urging him not to rush through the legislation.

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