ADEDY agrees to talks

Civil servants’ union ADEDY took the same position as its private sector peers yesterday and agreed to parliamentary talks on introducing pension reforms as the first cracks within the conservative government appeared on the sensitive issue. ADEDY said it will address pension reforms within the framework of parliamentary committee talks but stopped short of holding one-on-one discussions with the government. «GSEE and ADEDY need to adopt a single stance regarding discussions of the pension issue,» said ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyrou. Greece’s largest union group, GSEE, also agreed on Thursday to tackle the reforms agenda in Parliament. The government welcomed news of participation from the country’s two largest union groups after the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) flatly refused to sit in on any discussions. «We look forward to a productive, essential and systematic dialogue that will end in a result that can secure the feasibility of the social security system,» said alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros. The latest economic report calling for radical changes to the pension system came from the Bank of Greece earlier this week. The central bank indicated that reforms such as increasing the age eligible for pensions and reducing early retirement for workers are necessary to make the system viable after 2015. New Democracy deputies Panayiotis Panayiotopoulos and Yiannis Manolis criticized the central bank report, raising concerns the conservatives might be losing support from within their own party on the issue. The government, which holds 152 seats in Greece’s 300-seat Parliament, cannot afford any internal bickering in order to successfully push through changes. A survey commissioned by Kathimerini showed the government has the support of the people but the reforms will not be easily accepted. About 74 percent of respondents believe that changes need to be addressed immediately, while 65 percent also replied that they expect strike action in response to the talks. In April, only one in two expected the reforms process to prompt strike action.