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Greek government postpones pension reform

GREECE – The Greek government has postponed negotiations on pension reform until the end of May following the wave of industrial action that has paralysed the country over the last few weeks.

The decision followed a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other political party leaders.

Panagiotis Zampelis, managing director of consultancy Athens Actuaria, comments:
“The government has withdrawn their proposal at the moment because of the reaction from the unions.
“The social dialogue will start at the end of the month, so we will have to wait and see what the outcome is; I expect this to last several months – we should have a hot summer here,” he adds.

The Greek government will also have to look at the withdrawn proposal on a more structural level, says Zampelis.
“I think they are going to review their proposal because they had all political changes and no structural changes. We need structural changes within our system. It is the most problematic system in Europe with 300% of GDP in long-term deficit - it’s huge.”

Earlier this week, Christos Polyzogopoulos, president of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), called for a nationwide strike on May 17 over the social security issue.

Zampelis confirms the tension between the government and the unions: “It’s very difficult for the government to announce anything at the moment because the unions are very aggressive. At the moment people react violently to any decreases in pension benefits but as to the outcome of the social dialogue I believe they will cut the benefits in the end,” says Zampelis.

There have been several strikes in Greece to protest against the government plans for social reform, including a general strike on April 26 and the largest May Day demonstration in years.

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