Pensions not under threat

People’s pensions will not be reduced as a result of the reforms the government wants to introduce, Employment and Social Security Minister Vassilis Magginas told Sunday’s Kathimerini as he left open the possibility of changes to eligibility regulations. With a series of strikes set to start today as unions protest against plans to merge 155 pension funds into just five funds, the ruling conservatives are keen to emphasize that they believe the reforms will not be as disruptive as some people have argued. «We are in the process of having a dialogue,» said Magginas. «In this framework, we are putting forward our plans, which aim to serve real interests and the majority of people, but with the certainty that the general retirement ages will not be touched and neither will the level of pension payouts or contributions.» Greek men are eligible for retirement at the age of 65, women at 60. Magginas indicated that these age limits would not be changed but his comment in relation to «general retirement ages» indicates that the government may look at tweaking rules that allow people from certain professions to claim early retirement after a certain number of years served. Several unions have expressed fears that workers’ pensions could shrink over the years and a general strike has been organized for December 12 to protest the reforms. However, Magginas insisted that the level of retirement benefits would not be affected by any of the changes that have been proposed. «No pension will be reduced,» the minister told Kathimerini. «The way pensions are calculated will not change either.» Magginas said that the government would not be deflected from its efforts to overhaul the pension system despite the mounting number of protests that are being planned for the upcoming weeks. «In which European country would you find 155 different social security organizations operating?» he said. «Where else does this labyrinthine and chaotic system, which some people insist on keeping, exist?»