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Politics

Greece Hiring Private Managers for Beset Social Security Agency

ATHENS – While Greece’s Social Security agency, EFKA, cleared 96 percent of 1 million backlog of pension applications, the New Democracy government plans to hire 224 managers to help, including from the private sector.

That would include 24 senior managers at top level positions paying up to 8,000 euros ($7972) a month, up to eight times what some civil servants get but it wasn’t said if the plan was a move toward privatization of the agency.

The Labor Ministry is finalizing the details of the call for applications, said Kathimerini in a report, the move likely to draw fire from some political opponents, particularly the major opposition SYRIZA which doesn’t want private managers.

It also means that Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis is proceeding with his near total overhaul of EFKA with plans he devised as soon as he took over to modernize an agency with a reputation for being sluggish and inefficient.

When workers retire in Greece, it can take two years or more before they see their first benefit checks and they aren’t allowed to work in the meantime, leaving those without savings or means to try to get under-the-table payment jobs.

The reforms include a hotline, the hiring of private lawyers and accountants to help reduce the still massive pile of pending online applications to speed them and setting up a so-called “digital communications room,” the report added.

Several of these reforms have been opposed by public sector unions as “creeping privatization,” the sector also rabidly opposed to evaluations of workers in public officials long known for being slow and bureaucratic.

He told the newspaper that hiring managers, including from the outside, would dramatically improve the state agency’s administration model and will attract experienced and capable people, no word what would happen to current managers.

One of the prerequisites to be considered for the job is a minimum 10-year experience in management positions in either the private or public sector, in Greece or abroad. It wasn’t said how he would get around a requirement that workers can’t be hired if their diploma isn’t from a public Greek university.

Successful applicants will be hired on a three-year, once-renewable contract. There still remain 56,000 main pensions to be processed, as well as tens of thousands of auxiliary pensions, lump-sum payments and other, more specific cases from those filed from 2016-22.

There are also several appeals procedures, estimated at between 2,000 and 3,000, for those who were awarded a smaller pension than they expected and the report said one benefit of clearing old applications is that those who got a minimum while waiting will get retroactive payments.

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