NEWS

Draft bill on pensions submitted

As Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou submitted controversial draft legislation in Parliament for pension reform that will raise the retirement age for women in the civil service to 65, members of ruling PASOK continued to argue about the provisions of the bill, which also foresees the reduction of monthly payments to pensioners and makes it easier for employers to dismiss staff. The draft legislation, due to be voted on next Thursday, was finally submitted yesterday after several weeks of revision. Papaconstantinou and his team have struggled to produce a bill that satisfies the International Monetary Fund and Greece’s European Union partners, which have promised the debt-ridden government 110 billion euros in loans, while also trying to appease labor unions, which have called a 24-hour general strike for Thursday to protest the planned reforms. The revised draft legislation aims to raise the retirement age for women in the civil service to 65 in stages between the years 2011 and 2013. Citizens entitled to retire by the end of this year will be exempt from the reforms, as will those who joined the civil service before 1983. Despite heavy pressure from labor unions, there will be no preferential treatment for single mothers, who will also be obliged to retire at 65. There are financial incentives for workers wanting to take early retirement. Just a few days before MPs are scheduled to vote on these unpopular reforms, sources reported dissent amid the ranks of ruling PASOK regarding the provisions of the bill. Prime Minister George Papandreou is aware that some cadres object to the unpopular changes, sources said, but has deemed it unwise to intervene. Nevertheless the premier’s aides reportedly have advised him to convene a special session of the Socialist party’s central committee early next week and press for a united front ahead of the vote on the pension and labor bill on Thursday.