Unionists pull out of reform talks

Talks on Greece’s controversial social security reforms are expected to continue in Parliament today without the participation of union groups and opposition parties, which have accused the government of failing to outline its position on the proposed changes. Greece’s largest union group GSEE, which represents more than 2 million private sector workers, informed the Employment and Social Security Ministry yesterday that it will not take part in talks until the government says how it plans to fund the pension system. «No one can be forced to take part in a dialogue,» said Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. The main opposition socialist PASOK party has also called on the government to spell out its positions on the issue and has called for an actuarial study to accurately measure the magnitude of the problem. The conservative government argues it will unveil financing plans in Parliament during negotiations. Greece has pledged to push through reforms to the pension system which, it is feared, may go bust as early as 2015 due to an aging population. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos called on all sides to take part in the economic committee talks and present their arguments. The government is hoping to legislate pension reforms in the first half of 2008.