Minister shrugs off claims

Employment Minister Vassilis Magginas received the government’s full backing yesterday after denying weekend reports that he employed uninsured foreign workers at his home on the outskirts of Athens. «I do not employ insured or non-insured foreign or Greek workers,» Magginas said in a written statement in response to a story in the Proto Thema newspaper that claimed he was not paying social insurance for three foreign workers at his second home in Koropi, northeast of Athens. In his two-page statement, the minister said that he had offered free accommodation to an Indian couple with three children because they were having difficulty finding a home. The father works at a company in Koropi and is fully insured, according the statement. Magginas admitted that it was a «possible oversight» on his part that he did not make public the fact that he was hosting the family. The allegations came at a sensitive time for the minister and the government as Magginas is spearheading New Democracy’s controversial efforts to reform the pension system. However, his denial appears to have been accepted by the government. «We are totally satisfied with what Mr Magginas has said,» government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters. Roussopoulos indicated that the conservatives believe there is a concerted effort to target Magginas. «I imagine that this research, quote unquote, into Mr Magginas did not start out of the blue,» he said. The employment minister has already had to defend his daughter’s employment with OTE telecom and yesterday released financial details of other close relatives in anticipation of any further «revelations,» as he put it. Unions and some media have targeted Magginas over his pension reform proposals. A general strike and public rally tomorrow is likely to add to the pressure on the employment minister.