GREECE - The Greek government has invited union leaders to a meeting on the issue of 13 dissolved supplementary pension schemes of Greek banks following a reprimand from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

In 2005 the Greek government changed the law on collective bargaining to allow unilateral cancellation of pension arrangements made under collective bargaining agreements. Thirteen bank pension schemes were to be dissolved and merged into the general public pension fund.

The global union organisation, UNI said that the government took that step because it was "concerned about demographic changes and the future viability of the schemes". It argued that these concerns should be "up to the members of the funds themselves and do not justify the intervention of public authorities in these agreements".

The ILO demanded that the Greek government negotiate the issue again with unions and change the law. Now the country's finance minister has invited union representatives to a roundtable meeting.

The unions are most concerned that in general "bank workers would lose influence over their own pension matters" and that employer contributions might decrease.

UNI general secretary, Philip Jennings sees a link between this pension row and the scandal over an overpriced bond purchase by Greek pension funds: "When you sweep away collective bargaining on pension funds you are saying that you don't want transparency, that you don't want accountability and you are driving decisions underground."