The “new social security plan” of the ND government is not so “new”. It is a continuation and escalation of the legislation against social security resulting from the EU decisions for nearly three decades, and has been implemented by the bourgeois governments successively.
The law for the Social Security of SYRIZA in 2016 and the change in the way pensions are calculated, have led to replacement rates below 40% of retirement wages which was around 80% in the previous decade. The Sustainability Clause of the Funds has been introduced which abolishes the compulsory payment of supplementary pensions, which undoubtedly results in the conversion of pensions into a bonus and at the same time paves the way for the privatization of Social Security. The main pension has been split into national and contributory pensions, leading to the provision of a basic poor pension by the state and its withdrawal of the guarantee from the contributory pensions.
The recent decision of the State Council, at the same time as annulling all the basic form of calculation of this law, it preserves and definitively consolidates the whole framework of the reductions that took place in pensions during the last years.
On this ground, the ND government is now stepping up and taking a new phase in the process of further privatization of Social Security.
The strategic aim of all changes against social security is to “lighten” the capitalists and the state from the “burden” of social security, from the workers’ achievement to take back a portion of the stolen surplus value they produce. The private insurance that is being enhanced in the capitalist world is an area of profit for business groups. This is obviously not ‘insurance’ as the social, redistributive nature and solidarity of generations is lost.
It has been the subject of many governments and their respective committees on “how the social security system will respond to modern new requirements of the big capital”. That is, how it will relate to the overall course of the capitalist economy, the profitability of capital, but also to the “fiscal stability” based on the indicators of the EU, the IMF and other “institutions”.
Starting with supplementary pensions, the development of a new private insurance industry within the framework of the Single Supplementary Insurance and Single Benefits Fund is being promoted, which will operate under a purely capitalized system and through obligation, will lead the contributions of the insured persons to the gambling of the equity funds and shares and without any guarantee of what pension they will receive.
The aim is to extend privatization to the whole of Public Social Security. At the heart of this is the blow to the very core of Social Security, converting the Insurance into a strictly individual case.
It is noteworthy that in the EU, the annual “per capita premiums”, that is to say, the average amount each one pays for private insurance companies is almost 2.000 Euros, while in Greece is 360, that is, only 18.5% of the average amount of the EU! Even more striking is the difference in life insurance, where Greece is only at 14.3% of the average number of the EU! So, it is clear that the monopoly insurance groups see a huge profit margin and why they are constantly pushing for reforms against social security to proceed.
The notorious ‘capitalization’ benefits the entrepreneurs and bankrupts the workers and the retired persons. ASPIS, which still owes thousands of damages for those affected by its closure, at ENRON (US), the Professional Employees in Medicine Fund with an 80% reduction in pensions and a 64% lump-sum, reveals the disastrous situation created for the workers by replacing the redistribution and solidarity of generations with the gambling of capitalization in insurance.
But it’s not just the “business risks” of private insurance that threaten workers. In every setback in workers’ life, workers, self-employed, scientists, poor farmers are exposed. What happens, for example, in times when someone loses his job and has no income? If he is unable to continue paying contributions to private insurance schemes, he stays uninsured. That is to say, he and his family are in an uncertain situation, as well as their future retirement but also their medical coverage and any other benefits. After all, the privatization of Insurance goes hand in hand with the commercialization of Health.
The attack on insurance and pension rights is in full correspondence with the attack on wages, collective agreements, the changes for the worse in working relationships. It is not just about pensions, it is about the provisions of the Funds and the state in healthcare and medicine, the protection of Health and Safety at work, welfare, it concerns all workers and especially young men and young women.
The EU’s “white paper” and the Eurogroup decisions are essentially shaping the framework for state’s spending on Social Security, Healthcare and Welfare services for the popular family.
What is their aim?
- Staying on the job for a “longer period” to ensure the “viability” of the insurance system.
- Reduction of ‘non-wage costs’ through targeted reductions in employers’ contributions. The contribution paid by employers and from which they are almost exempt is part of the workers’ wage. The reduction in employers’ contributions gives back to capitalists a bigger part of the surplus that is steadily being taken from workers as they owe to the Single National Social Security Body (EFKA) over 17 billion euros.
- Defined contributions and uncertain benefits on the basis of workfare, in order to ‘achieve a balanced relationship between contributions and rights’.
- “Achieving a better balance between working years and retirement years”, ie increasing the retirement age.
- “Minimizing early retirement” for all workers, and rights for certain occupations, such as harsh and dangerous, which are essentially a protective veil for occupations in which the risk in exercising them is particularly complex and increased and were conquered through difficult fights.
We can’t either accept the argument that life expectancy increases and that of “active aging”! The increase of the work productivity, the technological and scientific advancement, the wealth produced, today enable workers to live longer years out of production, to rest and spend their time as they wish. And not as the capitalists and their political representatives who are trying to impose working until an old age, want, to gather more surplus value.
The logic, that treats social security as a cost must be categorically rejected by the workers and the insured persons. The issue of social security is first and foremost a political, class issue, it is a right for the worker, stemming from the fact that he is the creator of wealth and he must have a strong protection system against the exploitation system that is worsening his life every day, it intensifies work, impairs health, has laid the foundations for work until old age. It’s an achievement of workers though hard struggles.
We must, therefore, rise up to stop the new attack by all of us, workers, retired, self-employed, scientists, women, young people, to put a stop to the government- big employers plans, to hinder their plans.
The great struggles that took place in recent years have played an important role in defending the social nature of insurance. Today, we demand a single mandatory exclusively public Social Security system, which will provide pensions and benefits for all, in line with the popular needs. In a united front we must fight to save the institution of Public Social Security, but also to improve it, in order to substantially support the social rights of the working-class family. Social Security must be compulsory, universal and must be the responsibility of the state and the employer. Only in this way it will be able to provide decent pensions, free human healthcare and adequate welfare benefits.
Thera are the material conditions, but capitalist profitability is an obstacle and promotes increasingly reactionary schemes. Today the fight for public and free universal Social Security is as timely as ever, based on modern needs of the workers. The precondition, of course, is to clash with the big capital, its governments, the EU, which are blocking this possibility because it is not compatible with the capitalist profitability.
The achievements in the field of social security, for the working class and other popular strata, when the means of production came into their own hands and the planning in the economy and production were made to meet the needs of society and the people who produce and not for profit, point the way.
The developments themselves, today, eliminate the distinctions that divide workers and act as inhibitors in their single struggle against the attack to social security. The measures do not exclude anyone, workers, self-employed, scientists, poor farmers, retired persons. They do not concern specific funds or professions, or only those who will be insured under the new system, that is, young people who enter in the production under deteriorating conditions, or those who will go into retirement in the coming years and see daily changes in age limits and amounts, it concerns also the already retired people who are constantly facing new cuts.
That is why this struggle concerns everybody, which must be single, massive, class orientated! Every worker, every union, every honest trade unionist must take his place in this business!
We must fight for public, compulsory Social Security for all workers, locals and immigrants and the protected members of their families, based on modern needs. For a single Social Security system, including pension rights, health prevention and rehabilitation services, social Welfare benefits and services. To abolish private business in the field of Healthcare – Welfare and Medicines.
For a rigorous health and safety framework at the workplace with workers involvement and control to deal with accidents at work and occupational diseases.To protect against occupational risks for all categories of workers, local and immigrant, regardless of working relationship.
For the protection of maternity, care and education of infants, children, the disabled and their families, the elderly and the chronically ill, the large and single parent families.
For free health care, 100% funded by the state. Abolish participation in the medicines for the unemployed, the disabled, those who are paid the minimum wage or the minimum pension, as well as all those suffering from chronic diseases.
For restoring our losses. All that has been taken away from us, stolen from the reserve funds to be returned. The big business and the state have to pay.
We say no to poor salaries and pensions. Nobody must be paid under 751 euros, no pension under 600 euros. Increases in salaries and pensions.
Retirement at the age of 60 for men and 55 for women. At 55 and 50 respectively for harsh and dangerous occupations.