Evert stirs up more trouble on banks

Following a clash in Parliament late on Tuesday, in which the prime minister and the main opposition leader traded accusations and implied that each other’s party had been corrupted in government, MPs are gearing up for today’s vote on pension reforms with the possibility that ruling New Democracy will face an attack from within. Parliament is due to vote on the government’s proposals to reform the pension scheme for bank employees by creating a single auxiliary fund and registering new workers with the main state social security fund, IKA, by 2008. Although the government is expected to win the vote comfortably, the stance of New Democracy MP and former party leader Miltiades Evert, is likely to be troublesome for Premier Costas Karamanlis. Evert is determined to table an amendment proposing an independent study into the cost of including bank workers in IKA. Socialist PASOK has said it will back him. However, Evert riled the government further yesterday when he implied that Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis had informed private Alpha Bank of his pension plans four months ago. Evert’s claim comes at a sensitive time for the government, following four weeks of strikes by bank employees (due to end today) opposed to the pension plans, as it tries to convince unionists that its proposals do not favor banks over workers. Alogoskoufis reacted sharply to Evert’s comments, providing a foretaste of what may transpire in Parliament today. «The politeness we are showing should not be interpreted as weakness.»

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