NEWS

Toward one fund for wage earners

In the first move toward the eventual creation of a single, giant health and pension fund, the government has asked the bank employees’ federation to get the executive boards of its unions to take decisions to join the IKA-ETAM fund as soon as possible. The initials stand for Social Security Foundation-Single Wage-earners’ Social Security Fund. A recent law reforming social security was designed to achieve the unification of bank employees’s main funds with the Social Security Foundation (IKA) by Jan. 1, 2008. However, Deputy Minister for Social Security Rovertos Spyropoulos, in a letter sent to the OTOE federation in the past few days, said it was urgent that unions move faster. He claimed that the adoption of international accounting standards by banks this year would force them to include their pension outlays as part of their liabilities, thus hurting their financial position. The Labor and Social Security Ministry is expected to summon the banks’ management and pension funds to a dialogue on the issue next week. The ministry stresses that the union with IKA, the country’s largest fund by far, is necessary to protect the banks from undesirable consequences if their liabilities were seen to increase – a possibility that could result in a loss of jobs in the sector. The interest in the issue is due to the opening up of the Greek banking sector and its exposure to international competition, which demands the swift solution of a problem that has been unresolved for decades.