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Elderly protest sharp pension cuts, Minister tells them “I implement the law”

Hundreds of pensioners gathered on Tuesday morning outside the Labor Ministry in Athens to protest the new cuts in their pensions. It is the second cut in supplementary pensions this year. As it was implemented retroactive, many pensioners were shocked in the first days of September see even more than 55% of their previous monthly income to have simply disappeared.

One pensioner complained about the cuts  saying “I worked from 1958 until 2000, always insured at TEVE [fund for self-employed]. Now my pension is down to 890 euro from 1,200.”

In the so-called second package of pension cuts, that affected the private sector,  some pensioners received €30 up to €150 less thins month. The cuts were implemented without taking into consideration vulnerable social groups, like pensioners with disability over 80% or widows.

Some supplementary pensions disappeared by up to 54%.

A widow receiving pension from the private sector Fund for Employees (IKA), saw half of her supplementary pension to vanish in the air. From €149 previously, she got only €75!

Another pensioner told media that with all the cuts of recent years, his pension was cut by 250 euro in total.

“With crumbs and lies we won’t compromises, we demand the stolen money back,” the elderly chanted demanding see Minister Giorgos Katrougalos.

The Minister had nothing else to tell them than “I implemented the law.” – Of course, the law he himself had introduced, after the lenders’ pressure or not it irrelevant.

To tell you the truth I have no idea whether all protesting pensioners were of the pure private sector of hard-working people who worked all their life to go home of a pension of 600 euro or from the banking sector, people who went into early retirement at their 52-55 with more than 2,000 euro.

The first package of cuts in supplementary pensions implemented in July affected mainly the civil servants. The cuts were not as shocking as in the private sector.

Business as usual. But as the Labor Minister loves ot reiterate: main pensions have not and will not be cut.

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  1. If people are now working for pay of less than 500 euros a month, it really is not appropriate for retired people to complain about receiving 900 or 600 euros in pension. The pension funds are not pots of money that people pay into and later take their pensions from: all pension schemes are pay-as-you go — which means that current income from social insurance payments finances current outgoing, i.e. pensions or healthcare. Now that income for the social insurance funds is at an all-time low, owing to the parlous state of employment and wage levels, then either pensions have to be cut or subsidised from general taxation. The latter is in complete contradiction of the Troika-imposed macroeconomic policies for Greece.

    • It’s a big mess and there is no saving it. 80% of government spending in Greece goes to state salaries and general pensions, an insane amount.

      • The very high dependence on the state funded sector is because German policies have destroyed the private sector. varoufakis explained this very clearly to German dunderheads, and they pretended not to understand. When you destroy an economy with punitive taxation, you distort it and create an non-viable public sector commitment to pay for pensions, essential public sector employment, healthcare, education etc. The private sector needed to be expanded, not destroyed. This is the level of economic ignorance that the Troika and IMF have shown — pure incompetence at best, malicious destruction of a criminal nature at worst.

        • It is the second, I would say, i.e. “malicious destruction”. What the Troika policies do is just too obvious for everybody to see; it is simply too irrational to assume that all their highly paid economists are too ignorant or too incompetent to know any better. There is a well laid out programme of demolition in place and the execution has so far been perfect. The aim: empty the territory off the locals and own it for free. If you see all the Troika’s (Germany’s) actions in this light everything they do can be easily and logically explained. If tomorrow morning God appeared and paid all the Greek debt in full, then the most miserable fellows would be the German elites and their Troika employees.

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      It’s an insurance, means to give less than what was contracted it’s fraud

      • No state insurance system in the world guarantees what pension you will get when you retire. This is a popular fallacy, based on what used to happen when there were more people in work than needing pensions.

        • Giaourti Giaourtaki

          So the fraud is to call it “insurance” but this is typical for capitalism, it even steals meanings, the same with the “boss gives work” and not the worker, instead the boss takes the work

          • It’s called insurance only in the germanic countries and greece, italy etc. In the scandinavian countries and the UK it is called social security — but these countries have not cut it much at all. The social insurance system was devised by Bismarck — as a way of offering something to the workers and trying to impede any interest in Marx. As such, it is a clear strategy to oppose communism.

  2. It is grossly unfair to cut a pension that is already being paid. By all means reduce the entitlement of those retirning soon but a deal is a deal. That said, you might be interested in the state pension I have just started receiving from the UK at age 65. I worked from 1967 to 2004 and paid all my state insurance (we call it National Insurance). My state pension, paid every 4 weeks, is £513, at an exchange rate of €1.19 to £1 that’s about €610. And that’s from a rich country where the cost of living is much higher than it is in Greece. Perhaps Greeks have had it too good for too long?

    • oh! no extra social allowances?

      • They have allowances for people, like winter heating allowance, free bus passes, obviously 0% contribution of healthcare etc.

        So its not that bad, and many people, unlike in Greece, have some form of private pension.

        What he is talking about is the most basic state pension taht basically everyone in the UK gets over 65, regardless of how long they worked, kinda like what they are proposing in Greece, a 390 EUR national pension.

        Problem with Greece is people were relying on their state pension to get them by, as in the old days they were expecting to get 1200-1500 EUR a month full pension including bonuses! Private pensions in Greece are almost non-existent. Unfortunately Greece can’t afford that, so you have the mess now where there is no choice but to cut pensions and salaries.

        • What he is talking about is the basic State Pension. To get this you have to have a minimum number of years contributions to National Insurance and I believe that the number for a ‘full pension’ was 30 year. It is now being increased to 35 years. If you have not contributed 10 years you get nothing, so between 10 and now 35 years there is a sliding scale – I think it reduces by £5 or so for every year less than 35 years. It is true that in the UK health care is free. And you get I think it is £200 winter fuel allowance and a fee bus pass, although that is of no value here – aint no buses !!

          What are in dire straights are many Company Pension Schemes. They have large deficits which keep growing, and this is a direct result of the actions of Central Banks with zero interest rates etc. This has b*ggered up the yield from bonds and is basically destroying the whole pensions system.

          • need to add to GR situation: heating allowance is given only to those heating with oil not with gas.

  3. I would agree with Tony Cross. The guy who said, ‘Now my pension is down to 890’. This is more than many state pensions in the UK. ‘Social allowances’ at this level would be council tax relief, a free bus pass, free healthcare and winter heating allowance.

    Why do you think so many Brits retire abroad?

    • Generally Brits know their basic pensions won’t be much so they know how to deal with it as they don’t expect much. This includes selling their home, moving abroad, having decent savings, having a private pension themselves or from their work, etc.

      • You totally misunderstand the UK system. The state pension was always supplemented by another scheme provided that you had regular employment. The occupational schemes are multi-billion investments involving companies and trade unions: their pension payouts are qutie good. The problem is for the long-term unemployed and the self-employed, and in the last two decades those with irregular and part-time work. As in all countries, the real problem is not with the pension system but with the employment structure of the economy — since the far right neoliberal politicians took over almost all European countries.

    • In Greece, the BIG PROBLEM was everyone thought the party days would last forever, they would own their properties without paying any tax on them, they would get 1200-1500 EUR a month including a Christmas bonus, things would remain cheap, and their kids would help them out!

      Wow, how things have changed in the past 10 years in GR!

    • I think, guys, you compare apples with oranges. pension (or should) depends a lot also to social contributions paid. And here there is no ‘social allowances’ – ie the poverty allowance EKAS has been gradually cut. heating allowance or municipality tax relief have been introduced after 2012 and are merely ‘temporary programs’ that implement this year but not next year. As for free bus pass… one has to have disability over 80% which is very hard to achieve. My dad (89) had 82% disability due to 1000 health issues (among others 2 cancer surgeries + amputation). last year they reduced it to 79%, lost his free bus pass (lol) and was checked as “able to work’. BTW he never received “disability allowance” despite his 600euro/gross pension per month.

      And furthermore, a 6% from his monthly pension goes for “health care’, while health care self-participation has increased due to the bailout +austerity cuts. So no free health care. Guess how much it cost even in the emergency of a public hospital 9 last time i had to pay 80Euro for a lab test about his heart condition).

      Oh and last year he was also registered as “uninsured” for some time and had to travel all across Athens public services etc etc to get confirmation he is pensioner and insured.

      • I guess thats why more and more pensioners simply refuse to pay their taxes or pay for bus tickets anymore.

        I mean if their pension is under 1250 EUR a month, the govt can’t even seize their accounts

        • Pensioners cannot hide their taxes as they are automatically removed by the Fund before they get their pensions.
          (stupodity + prejudice can sometimes be shocking. And Ignorance)

  4. It is called theft.
    The people are powerless, the government knows it, & they steal the peoples money.
    SYRIZA was the party of the people.
    After the people voted them in, they took off their sheep skins to reveal the concubines of the European Union Leaders.

  5. In reply to guest,(xenos), how right he is! When pensioners are complaining of their reduced pensions which remain substantially more than present day salaries, one should have little sympathy.

    • I think the biggest problem in GR right now with regards to workers is the fact that the public sector employees make double that of the private sector on average.

      • The biggest problem in Greece right now is that the private sector employees make almost nothing. Trying to divide the society by blaming the public sector is not going to work. We should also note that the criminal politicians who put their friends in the public sector with guaranteed lifetime jobs and good pensions are Pasok and ND — the favoured parties by the German mafia. Syriza did not cause this problem with secure state employment and insecure private sector.

        • Hasn’t SYRIZA become the favoured party with the Nazi mafia now? The buyout agreement was ratified in July 2015. 4th Reich PLC continues the acquisitions programme with another local government/party.