Preserving dialogue

Kathimerini recently praised a gesture made by labor union chief Christos Polyzogopoulos, who called for employers and workers to start talking about reforms to the social security system. «The mere fact that the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) has raised the issue is a sign of political responsibility and a move that should make things easier for the government and the political system in general,» we said back then. Polyzogopoulos’s comments were spurred by a study conducted by his organization’s Labor Institute into the prospects of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) in the future. The GSEE survey, which was based on reliable actuarial models, eased concerns over any imminent collapse of the system but, at the same time, shone light on the strict time frames that mandate change as soon as possible. However, politicking on all sides has threatened to kill the debate before it gets to the table. The conservative New Democracy administration assigned responsibility for the first round of talks to the Economic and Social Committee, which is made up of representatives of workers, employers and professional groups. The body, which exists in all European Union members, could be a forum for such a debate. GSEE and the ADEDY civil servants’ union have reacted by saying that the government cannot afford to be absent from the crucial issue of social security reform. That is not just because it ought to make clear its goals and policies, but also because it will be called upon to undertake specific commitments. Union chiefs are clearly trying to play a leading role in the process. In other words, they are trying to enter into dialogue with the government and the opposition parties. This also explains their refusal to participate directly in the talks. However, the goal here should be to stage an open and sincere dialogue. This is an extremely sensitive issue and all sides should tread cautiously. Yesterday’s incidents at the gates of the Economy Ministry before the meeting by ND ministers Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Panos Panayiotopoulos with the chairman of the Economic and Social Committee was a worrying sign. The aim of the KKE unionists who caused the incidents is clear. All sides are responsible for preventing this effort from degenerating into a sterile trade in accusations. The warning does not just apply to the GSEE and ADEDY. The government has a big share in this itself.

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