Solution in sight for bank pensions

After months of protracted negotiations, bankers and unionists, who will sit down for fresh talks today, appear to be on the verge of agreeing on the creation of a single auxiliary pension fund for all bank workers. Bank employees’ unfunded social insurance liabilities, and the integration of pension funds in the sector, has been a conundrum which the government, banks and unions have repeatedly failed to crack. The three sides have arrived at a mutually acceptable answer, sources said, whereby the government will deposit three billion euros into a new, separate fund. This will be matched by the banks. The government’s contribution, however, will come in the form of 10-year state bonds. The Federation of Bank Association Employees (OTOE) will meet with banking representatives today and then with Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis tomorrow to discuss the details of the plan. The government and unionists are in favor of creating a single auxiliary pension fund, with the latter especially reluctant to accept any initiative that could lead to an increase in the retirement age and a cut in pensions and benefits for many bank workers. Banks have been more cautious, fearing that they would have to exclusively foot the bill for a new fund. The matter’s resolution has become more pressing because of a new international requirement that all listed companies, including banks, should include such liabilities on their balance sheets by the end of June.