Tough reforms on the table

As draft legislation for unpopular changes to labor relations and the pension system are submitted to Parliament for discussion this week, sources have told Kathimerini that plans are afoot for the creation of a task force to oversee the implementation of austerity measures already introduced by the government. According to sources, it is likely that a working group will be set up to check that the provisions of a memorandum signed between Greece and the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are being adhered to. The group is to intervene if and when Greece’s public administration is found to be hampering the implementation of these provisions, the sources said without determining whether the body would comprise EU and IMF inspectors or a mix of government and foreign officials. Another possible strategy would involve more frequent visits by foreign inspectors checking whether the government is making good on its pledges to its creditors. Meanwhile the pressure is said to be building on Labor and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos, who has spearheaded the drafting of controversial reforms affecting labor relations and the pension system. The planned changes have prompted protests from labor unions as they would facilitate layoffs at companies and raise retirement ages. Although Loverdos has said he will try to make some concessions to unions on the labor relations reforms, it is unclear whether the memorandum leaves much scope for such changes. Sources say Loverdos is losing allies in the ruling party where many cadres have criticized his handling of pension reform, a hot potato avoided by successive governments over the years. In a related development, Kathimerini has learned that planned pension reforms will not apply to employees of state companies, banks and the civil service who started paying their social insurance contributions before 1983.