Labour unions will wait for the government’s final proposal on new income criteria for social pensions before taking a final stance but have welcomed an increase in the originally suggested maximum income for beneficiaries.
Social pensions were created to assist those with no or little other pension income. The majority of beneficiaries are women who were homemakers or worked in the family fields or were formally employed only for a short time and therefore have not paid adequate sums to the social insurance fund to qualify for a pension. The aim was to ensure they were not totally dependent only on their spouse’s income.
Sek General Secretary Nicos Moyseos said the Labour Ministry’s proposal was moving in the right direction with household income below €2,000 per month set as the ceiling for eligibility.
Peo General Secretary Pambis Kyritsis reiterated that social pension should remain in place but welcomed the higher maximum income.
Deok Secretary General Diomides Diomidous noted his union suggested high-income beneficiaries have their social pension suspended for the duration of the ongoing financial crisis.
The union leaders’ statements came after their informal meeting with Labour Minster Zeta Emilianidou on Monday during which two possible scenarios were floated, both of which would leave the social pension in place for those with a household income of €1,900 or under per month.
One raises the maximum income to €2,000 while the other suggests scale reductions on the amount for those beneficiaries with a household income of between €1,900 and €2,100.
In the first scenario, those with a household income of over €2,000 per month number 1,880 beneficiaries saving the state €8m if their social pensions were stopped. The dependent’s subsidy of €130 per month would remain in place regardless of income. The government had hoped to save €10m through the changes.
In the second, the dependent’s subsidy of €130 per month would also remain in place but it has not been revealed exactly how much the state would save.
The original proposal aimed at narrowing down the 15,522 entitled to social pension to 12,423.
Labour and other unions representing those receiving the pension immediately reacted saying the move would leave thousands of people financially vulnerable.