A threat to our pensions system

There is a charming slogan favored by anarchists in Greece – «pensions at 18 and conscription at 100.» In view of the crisis that has been smoldering on many levels of the economy, it is quite likely that this slogan – or at least the first part of it – may soon have some bearing on reality. The first step in this direction has been taken following a Labor Ministry amendment allowing fired textile workers from Naoussa to cash their pensions from the age of 50, providing that they have been insured for 25 years. This measure would undoubtedly bring some relief to a region that has been languishing under the shadow of deindustrialization and unemployment. But these problems are not restricted to the prefecture of Imathia. According to the National Statistics Service, the prefectures of Kastoria, Florina and Drama display the highest rate of unemployment in the country – above 20 percent and rising. Arta, Kozani and Kilkis also have a high rate of joblessness, currently around 15 percent, with Karditsa not far behind. So what will happen if all the fired employees over 50 from the above prefectures take legal action, seeking the same treatment as the Naoussa workers? This could lead to a shakeup of the whole social security system, with the minimum retirement age being reduced to 50 across the board. If we start regarding the 50-year-old worker as «past it,» the already uneven balance between workers and pensions will be tipped further. The number of citizens paying into pension funds will drop and the number of those being supported by these funds will increase.