Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 10

... and faster. The 11th Euromeeting, held in Islantilla (Spain) reminded me of the process of design, construction and launching of an airplane.

Eleven years ago, some farsighted employees from Saving Banks, conscious of the key social role and respect towards senior citizens of their institutions, worked altruistically and faithfully on a project that may unite their retired workers. This was an attempt to keep alive the values they had learnt during their working life, in a time when getting united seemed to be the only solution for the future problems that the so-called third agewould face in all countries. If we stand united, we will be listened to. If we are scattered, we will be ignored. Pepe Lidón summarized in this sentence the spirit of our activities and our enthusiasm.

Our pioneersgot down to work and held their first Euromeeting in a place full of social reminiscences, the ISDABE complex. The first colleagues from some others European countries accepted the invitation from Paco Bernabéu and Pepe Lidón, attracted by their belief in common values and with no need whatsoever of a constitutional treaty.

Together, they sketched the main lines we would all follow later on in our countries, and that share some common factors: pensions, preservation of the purchasing power, proper social and health services, social protection to dependent people, discrimination and loneliness. In short, an active ageing and the participation of older people in societys life. We are well aware of our influence on politics, and therefore we demand the role we deserve in democracy. Our votes are not for sell. Our votes must be valued, and politicians must keep it always in mind. Pensions are not a graciously granted to us. We have earned it thanks to our foresight, and we deserve it. We have contributed to the success of the saving banks, and our successors will have to work very hard to match our efforts. And, incidentally, they will find themselves in the situation we find ourselves today. This is the basic reason why they should listen to our fair demands.

There was once a king who ordered the construction of a cathedral. One day, he visited the construction site. There he asked a carpenter about his duty. The worker answered him: I am cutting down trees so that we have beams.Then the king asked the same question to a builder: I am mixing concrete so that the bricks remain stuck, he answered. Finally, a plain laborer who was carrying sand in a wheelbarrow passed by and the king asked him the same question. The laborer answered him: I am building a cathedral. This is just what we are doing together through our Group of European Retired Staff, conscious of the important of our tasks, no matter their magnitude. We are doing it through our management and executive bodies, we are doing it thanks to the support of our members. We are laborers building up this cathedral, with quiet but incessant and effective efforts from our representative bodies to the very last member.

The foundations were laid during the first stage: the stage of creation. Then we passed through the stage of consolidation. Together with the Federation of Associations, we became a member of CEOMA (Spanish Confederation of Older People Associations), to the extent that we have a representation in its executive body. We joined together with national associations from Portugal, France, Germany, England, Belgium, Italy and Sweden, and we hope to enlarge the list of members with some others EUs countries in the near future. We also joined AGE Platform (Brussels), which has 21 million members, a true European older peoples lobby. They have appreciated our surveys on European issues, and we will soon be part of its executive body.

Now, the moment has come to start the stage of action. We do it through a democratic process, in which the presidency of our Group has been transferred to the Italian delegation, and also through the creation of the European Working Groups and the Social Protection Constant Observatory.

Older people are important. We can not deny it, and we must remind that the wisdom, experience and prudence of some older peopleserved to create the European Coal and Steel Community: Schuman, De Gasperi and Adenauer. Their successful creation laid the foundations of current European Union.

We must follow this example. We are active older people, not decrepit ones; we have a great deal of experience and a total lack of interest in getting pompous positions: our real goal is to struggle for social welfare. This our ultimate and unselfish dream. Our work, our efforts, represents a huge added value to European economy. We create jobs in several sectors: health, tourism, hostelling, communications, social voluntary service, counselling, etc. And we are well aware of our votes value.

Finally, I want to thank all the colleagues from different countries who showed their confidence in me when voting me for our executive bodies. Thank you very much for your support.

And so, after this short summary of our truly democratic history, our airplane, the Group of European Retired Staff, made its roll-out, earned itself a relevant place in Europe and is flying higher and faster. We show it through our unity, our experience and our unselfish efforts to cooperate.

Julio Barrera

General Secretary of the Spanish Federation of Confederated

Associations of Retired staff and Pensioners from Saving Bank