The government will have to dish out eight billion euros if thousands of pensioners who have filed a barrage of lawsuits are vindicated on final appeal in court.
The retirees are suing for the reinstatement of holiday bonuses that were abolished under bailout memorandum policies. In addition, those who retired after May, 2016, whose pensions were cut a priori under the terms of a law tabled by the labour minister Yorgos Katrougalos, are also suing to reverse the measure.
Many pensioners have been vindicated at the lower court level.
The issue has raised heightened concerns in the government, as a vindication of pensioners will completely derail its fiscal planning.
In a bid to stem the tide, government ministers have declared that they will appeal decisions that are favourable for the plaintiffs, and that they are just losing their time.
Former labour minister Yorgos Koutroumanis told Skai television yesterday that according to the most conservative calculations, the total amount of arrears could reach eight billion euros.
The reason for that exorbitant amount is that the lawsuits have been filed by tens of thousands of pensioners who retired prior to the time that the “Katrougalos law” came into effect, and who seek even reduced holiday bonuses, as well as by those pensioners who retired after May, 2016, who seek to reverse the 30 percent cut on their pensions imposed before their retirement.
Even if the government manages to avert pension cuts planned for 1 January, 2019, that concerns only pensioners who retired before May, 2016.
If steps are not taken regarding retirees who are receiving reduced pensions, that could result in a huge wave of lawsuits, which combined with thousands of applications for arrears could blow the insurance system out of the water.
Main opposition New Democracy is accusing the government of double talk, as it now views as legal the 2012 slashing of pensioners’ bonuses, a measure that SYRIZA before coming to power had pledged to abolish.
For ND, the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government’s unprecedented mockery of pensioners is revealed by two appeals that have been filed by the EFKA social insurance fund and the Unified Fund for Supplemental Insurance and One-Off Benefits (retirement bonus), against the decision of the lower Administrative Lower Court of Thessaloniki, which ruled that the 2012 abolition of Christmas and Easter bonuses, and of the summer vacation bonus, which were mandated by the second bailout memorandum, was illegal.
Two appeals filed by the government, which were reported on today by the daily Ta Nea, underline that the major pension cuts enacted between 2010 and 2012, “were voted on and implemented for the sake of the public interest, which in this case is identical to the interests of Greek citizens, as a potential complete collapse of the Greek economy due to the international economic crisis would also lead to the complete collapse of the families of all Greek citizens”.
The appeals that were filed by the government maintain that the cuts were constitutional.