In some bank branch, the first pensioner arrived already short after midnight. The second, half an hour later. The third around 2 in the morning. By 5 am the queues outside the banks in the big cities were already very long. Some pensioners had brought plastic stools and chairs, a pillow, a bottle of water. Despite the enforced bank holiday, 1,000 branches across the country were opened on Wednesday in order to facilitate pensioners without debit card to withdraw their pensions.
Video: everybody is there: pensioners, reporters and policemen to keep the order
When banks opened at 8 o clock the people started to push each other to grab the opportunity and get into the bank.
In vain. In the middle of the night, the Finance Ministry had decided to pay the pensions to those pensioners without debit card “alphabetically”: A-I on Wednesday, K-N on Thursday and the rest on Friday.
This decision triggered chaos and disappointment as the majority of pensioners were not aware of that. Some verbally attacked bank employees for this chaotic situation.
By 10 o’ clock, at least two (Pireus & Eurobank) of the four systemic Greek banks had decided to ignore the Finance Ministry decision and prioritize.
Santorini: Giving priority numbers to pensioners
There are isolated reports of pensioners who scuffled with each other.
Irakleio, Crete: from the bank to the hospital: a 78-year-old man fainted while standing queue. He was taken to nearby hospital with the ambulance.
Reports about pensioners who have fainting while waiting come also from Ioannina, Thessaloniki.
No pensioner will be able to withdraw the whole pension amount to cover needs. The bonus for awaiting queues is just €120 for this week. Nobody knows how the Finance Ministry will rule for next week.
Video: queues in Patras
On the other hand, pensioners with debit card can line up outside tha ATMs and withdraw €60 per day. Yesterday, there were reports that in some ATMs there were shortage of 20-euro bank notes and the people left with just 50 euro.
Video: in some bank branches, employees distribute bottles of water to pensioners
Confusion: some pensioners who had lined up to withdraw €120 from the cash register, they found out that they had to go to ATM and get only €60 because they had a debit card.
The Pension Fund for the Self-employed (OAEE) was not able to deposit the whole amount of the monthly pensions but only half of it. The pensions were deposit after 11 o’ clock today, while pensioners had lined up already form the early morning hours.
General Secretary for Pensions Giorgos Romanias said on Tuesday: “It doesn’t matter, they can only withdraw maximum €120 this week from the bank,” he said assuring that the rest amount will reach the bank “in the next days.”
I suppose he forgot that people can withdraw €60 per day, which is total €300-360 from Wednesday to Sunday or Monday. Bank holiday is expected to last until July 6th, one day after the Referendum. Many doubt that this will happen. Capital controls are expected to last longer.
As the queues grow hour by hour, some bank branches are reportedly to remain open until 7 o’ clock in the afternoon. “If necessary more branches will open,” Louka Katseli, Chairwoman of the Greek Banks Association said around 10 a.m.
When pensioners are asked by media reporters “Who is to blame for the situation”, the majority of them answered in one voice: “All” and “Everyone”.
PS I suppose with such uncertainty and short of liquidity no one dares to pay utilities or other obligations nowadays…