GSEE to press home advantage

By: Foo Yun Chee
The Kathimerini, May 15, 2001

Trade union umbrella body is firmly against any role for private sector involvement in workers' pensions

GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos, the civil servants' union chief Spyros Papaspyros and GSEE Secretary General Yiannis Manolis (present their proposals on social security reform yesterday. 

Basking in the success of the April 26 nationwide general strike, trade union umbrella body GSEE plans to use the forthcoming general strike on Thursday to push forward its proposals on social security reforms, GSEE head Christos Polyzogopoulos said yesterday. 

"The first strike showed the government that its proposals have no place in society, leading to their withdrawal. The next strike will seek to assert our claims," he told reporters at the presentation of the union's actuarial study on the Greek social security system conducted by INE, GSEE's labor institute. 

Spyros Papaspyros, head of civil servants' union ADEDY, noted that while the April 26 strike signaled that workers do not plan to retreat from their stand on social security reforms, the general strike planned for Thursday would be more aggressive. 
"The motto for the May 17 strike is a step forward," he said. 

Polyzogopoulos also reaffirmed the union's contention that the crux of the Greek social security system's problems lies in its funding or the lack of it. 
"The social security system needs broader tripartite funding now and not in the future," he said. 
GSEE's proposal calls for the state to pay a third of social security contributions, employers four-ninths and employees the remaining two-ninths. 

The union claimed that present state funding amounts to just 2 percent. 

Polyzogopoulos also criticized the absence of any official confirmation on increasing state contributions to the social security system. Both Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Labor Minister Tassos Yiannitsis have confirmed that the subject of funding will be included in the forthcoming social dialogue without, however, going into the specifics. 

GSEE's emphasis on increased state financial support as a solution to the social security system's problems comes in sharp contrast to the labor minister's shelved proposals, which sought to raise the retirement age and lower payable pension benefits. 

Presenting the actuarial study on the Greek social security system, INE economist Giorgos Romanias stressed that the set up has one principal structural weakness, that of insufficient funds. 
He warned that the system could use up its current estimated reserves of 5.6 trillion drachmas by 2003 based on the present rate of contributions. 
An injection of 20 trillion drachmas, on the other hand, could give the setup a respite until 2023 to 2024. New funds could also come from getting more migrants to pay their contributions and intensifying the crackdown on companies not paying their dues. 
The study also noted that the social security system (discounting the farmers', civil servants' and sailors' funds) could face a long-term actuarial deficit ranging from 26.7 trillion drachmas to a massive 72.5 trillion drachmas, depending on different interest rates.

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