GREECE – The Federation of Bank Employees (OTOE), has called for a strike next Tuesday in a bid to overturn a recent law which would change the structure of the sector’s supplementary pension system.

This one-day strike follows a 23-day walkout in June. OTOE president Dimitri Tsoukalas told IPE that the changes in the law passed last month would imply lower pensions for employees and would give personnel different pension deals depending on joining date.

“We are trying to prove that this law is not constitutional and we are going to appeal against it. We are backed by very prominent professors of constitutional and labour rights,” Tsoukalas said.

“The paradox is that the state will pay for pensioners of the private sector, a fact officially denied by the government, but which is a reality, as proven by the discussion in the Parliament and even confirmed by officials of the governing party,” OTOE’s executive committee said in a statement.

“OTOE believes that the state shouldn't interfere with issues of supplementary pensions,” the statement also claims.

At stake is the reform of the banking sector’s 50-year-old system of subsidiary funds, which to date features 10 sub-funds but also the implementation if the IFRS accounting standards in the country.

The question of reform has seen the trade union, banks and the government confronting each other for months. The most contentious issue was the funding of the single entity.

OTOE has been lobbying for the single fund to be solely financed by bankers, arguing that the taxpayers should not foot the bill, which they say is responsibility of the banks.

The trade union also argued that the new fund would not have enough resources, unless subsidised by the banks in the next decade in line with proposals of the economy ministry.

“OTOE believes that employers are not going to pay within a decade, as it will be settled by the upcoming financial study by the_ministry,” the statement said.

In early June, after a lengthy period of negotiations which bought no break-through, economy and finance minister Yiorgos Alogoskoufis said the state would pay one third of the liabilities.

Alogoskoufis’ pledge however was followed by an announcement issued by the government to the effect that it would not help finance the intended single auxiliary pension fund.

Last month the Greek parliament voted the new law which, according to OTOE, reduces pension income, increases retirement age and creates a supplementary pension fund “that plays the role of mediator between the state's welfare system (IKA-ETEAM) and the currently existing funds”.

Tsoukalas also told IPE the strike was an act of protest to the fact that Emporiki Bank, partly owned by the state, has called a stake-holder meeting to discuss the pension transition to its own sub-fund to the newly created single fund.

Neither Emporiki nor the economy and finance ministry were available for comment.