Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 7

LADIES and gentlemen, dear colleagues, good afternoon. After  having worked for 43 years, always in the Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM), I could never imagine, when I was offered retirement and accepted it, that a phone call by my friend José Lidón, our President during the last four years, could end in what is happening here today, that I am addressing to you as the new President of our Group.


Four days after my new life as a pre-retiree, I got a phone call from José Lidón. We had a long conversation in which he explained to me the task he was developing as President of the European Group of retired Staff of Saving Banks, Banks and Similar Institutions, his projects and concerns, and all of it with a catching excitement and great passion.


The truth is that he seemed quite overwhelmed with work and responsibilities, and when he asked me for help I didn't hesitate. I remember I started collaborating with him on Tuesdays and Fridays and we ended up working together from Monday to Friday. This year my wife got angry with me because I practically didn't take summer holidays, as we were preparing the edition of the Euromeeting magazine.




I must confess that at the beginning wanted to help the President in order to unburden him of all the work he had, but, and

there's always a 'but', as I got to know the ins and outs of the Group, the members of the Board of Directors and the Assembly, I started getting excited about what all these represented and all we could achieve together.


Let me reflect on the reasons that made me take up the challenge of presidency for the next three years.


Theoretically, during active life, and I repeat: theoretically, the trade unions defend our interests, but once we cross the barrier and we are considered as passive workers there is no one who really defends the rights of the elderly. I am talking about my experience in Spain. I have never been able to understand why one day you are an manager of an important department of your Savings Bank, fulfilling aims and receiving congratulations, and the next day your efforts are apparently ignored, as well as your contribution to an environment you helped to create. 


I think that we can and we must put the experience we have gained during our lives in the service of all of us. Whenever I have taken part in projects at a national level together with other Savings Banks, I have always considered that the final result would be better than the ones we could obtain separately.


I have always thought that united we stand. If we work together we can be successful by forming the best team to defend our interests and assert our rights before the institutions which, shall I say 'sometimes', legislate in the detriment of the retirees.



The step we took last year when we joined the AGE Platform as members with full rights was, in my opinion, important, as we are not anymore just retirees of the Saving Banks, Banks and Similar Institutions: all the sectors are included in this platform and in that way we are part of a great group and we will make our voices heard in all the statutes both national and European that could legislate on us. The Second UN World Assembly on Ageing finished in Spain a few days ago. Main matters as an International Action Plan and a Political Statement have been approved. They contain some proposals that could favour the policies of flexible and voluntary retirement, the attention to the ageing problems manifested in the developing countries, the programs for social, cultural and political integration of the elderly and the inter-regional solidarity in order to face the future panorama/scene/outlook. It is said that in the year 2050 there will be more than 2000 million elderly people, as opposed to the current 600.




Having mentioned the social, cultural and political integration of the elderly, I would like to remark that in this same world assembly, the request of the NGO's World Forum on ageing for the setting of a Special Agency of the UN devoted to the elderly was not addressed. One of the Forum's co-presidents stated that the World Assembly report seemed to her 'sheer literature, with no specific measures'. It happens very often that, when elections approach, there are always offers about advantages and improvements for the elderly, but reality shows that once the campaign has finished, a great deal of what has been promised is cast into oblivion.


For all these reasons, I have dared to assume the Group's Presidency, with no fear but great respect. An important Spanish politician used to say: 'I can promise and I do promise'. I would like to make use of it this afternoon and tell you that: I can promise and I do promise that I assume the Presidency with humbleness, with respect, with excitement and looking forward to working.


We, the elderly, represent an important sector of the population but we are still treated with pity instead of as citizens with full rights. Our rights and votes are not retired, and I would even say that we want to be the main figures of our present and also of our future, and to have a full participation in social and political life. All these must change and it will only do so if together, we demand our rights as citizens. Our votes cannot be bought because they are not on sale and our votes, standing together, can carry much weight and make our political leaders think that they must take us into account and listen to us.


We might have wrinkles on the face, but as long as we do not have wrinkles in our soul, we will always be people that can and must contribute to the wellbeing of society and of ourselves. I am aware that there is still much to do, but with all our time and all our experience we will be able to achieve all the goals we set ourselves.


Good afternoon and thank you for your attention.


José Roberto López Martínez

President of the Group of European Savings Banks,

Banks and Related Institutions Retired Staff