OPINION

Consensus needed

It’s common knowledge that the social security system is in deep trouble. The rumors of an imminent collapse might not be true, but the system is reaching the limits of its endurance. Current state funding and contributions from employees and employers will not be able to maintain it for much longer if no courageous reforms are made in the meantime. From the outset, this government had made it clear that it would not be making any decisions during its current four-year term. However, it has been holding a dialogue with the parties concerned so that views can be heard in a responsible manner and, above all, to establish a consensus within a reasonable period. No doubt social security is an extremely sensitive issue for the nation. The strength of the opposition to the Yiannitsis bill a few years ago left no room for doubt regarding the potential major political repercussions of any attempt to introduce more burdensome changes. The widespread strike action at that time indicated that workers are not willing to take any sudden moves lying down. Yet that fact should not be any reason for inaction, particularly when the figures are implacable. Only those who prefer soothing illusions or the short-term view can avoid the issue. The pressure of reality should be pushing all sides to reach a national agreement. If the imposition of provisions by the parliamentary majority is unacceptable and counterproductive, a «hands off» policy would be equally unacceptable and irresponsible to future generations. The issue here is how to carry out a sober debate aimed at finding viable solutions that will not put the burden solely on employees. The relevant ministers have shifted responsibility during the first phase of the debate onto the shoulders of the Economic and Social Committee, where all the involved parties are represented. The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) believes that the government should not distance itself from the debate on such a crucial issue. Even if it is partly right, it is wrong not to take part itself in that debate, a refusal that is either prompted by a short-term approach or partisan expediency. And that is precisely what it should be trying to avoid at all costs. There are possibilities for a convergency of views as long as the debate is not undermined by games such as these or a partisan tug of war.