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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-15
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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Wednesday, July 15, 1998
 CY pilots to strikeBy Jean Christou
CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots yesterday announced a three-day strike from July 23 over the failure to secure a new collective agreement.
Some 95 members of the CY's pilots union Pasipy decided to ground the already troubled national carrier from July 23 to 26, union president Andreas Constantinides told a news conference in Nicosia.
The announcement came shortly after a failed meeting with airline management, a last-ditch attempt to reach an agreement.
Under the industrial relations code all sides now have only 10 days in which to find a solution before the strike goes ahead.
Cyprus Airways condemned the planned strike, saying its pilots were showing "once again" total disregard for the island's tourism industry and the travelling public.
It also called on Pasipy to return to the negotiating table.
Pilots, who have not had a pay rise since 1989 other than annual increments and other benefits, say their demands are reasonable.
The company, whose wage bill represents some 35 per cent of annual costs, say its pilots are among the best paid in the world.
"Judging by the meeting we just had with Cyprus Airways we don't see any possibility of bringing the two sides together," Constantinides said. "Their attitude was too negative".
He added that the public should be advised to make alternative travel arrangements.
The strike in the midst of the island's lucrative tourist season will hit the loss-making airline hard, particularly in the UK market on which it depends heavily for the major part of its business.
"This decision was reached after a lot of thought and we have shown great patience on the renewal of our collective agreement," Constantinides said.
The airline's charter firm Eurocypria will also be partially affected by the strike as 10 of its 35 pilots are members of Pasipy.
Eurocypria itself is at the centre of a parliamentary probe following allegations by senior captains that management rigged recruitment procedures to secure the appointment of a particular pilot as a political favour.
The same Eurocypria pilots claim their Pasipy colleagues are running a campaign to close the charter firm by disrupting and delaying flights.
Two such incidents in the space of two weeks left hundreds of passengers from Dublin stranded in Athens after Eurocypria's Pasipy pilots refused to fly on to Larnaca in a row over shift times.
The entire CY group appears to be engaged in a 'dirty war' involving tit- for-tat allegations and accusations.
Pilots say management is targeting them for pay cuts while continuing to waste money through its own ineptitude.
It emerged yesterday that the airline has just spent £200,000 on five new company cars - one Mercedes worth £35,000 for a senior Cyprus executive and four Audis for the London office, itself plagued by scandal.
The new strike threat is a further blow to the national carrier, which is trying to polish its tarnished image and, in the face of stiff union opposition, to implement a strategic plan designed to help it cope with competition as a result of European air liberalisation.
The plan calls for reductions in staff, pay cuts and wage freezes. But employees continue to demand more money and benefits.
"Pilots are workers and pilots have rights and the decision to strike has not been without regrets," Constantinides said, referring to the widespread chaos their industrial action is likely to cause.
CY's annual results for 1997, which will be officially presented to shareholders in Nicosia tomorrow, show pre-tax losses for the year of £3.1 million.
 Soldier remanded over shooting of friendBy Martin Hellicar
THE BEST friend of a National Guardsman shot dead at a Nicosia district camp on Monday was yesterday remanded in custody on suspicion of causing death by negligence.
A military court in Nicosia heard that a pistol Nestoras Michaelides and victim Panayiotis Christou were "handling" went off, the bullet hitting Christou in the chest and killing him instantly.
Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou said he had given explicit instructions that an army inquiry announced immediately after the death be completed as soon as possible. He said the two soldiers, both from Nicosia, should never have had the pistol in the first place.
In an address to new recruits in Limassol, National Guard chief Dimitris Dimou said the death had been the result of a "stupid game."
Michaelides was remanded for eight days.
CID officer Athanasios Socratous told the court the pistol was in the hands of Michaelides when it went off and the suspect had admitted to firing the shot which killed his friend. The two soldiers were in a camp command office at the time of the incident, the case investigator stated.
Omirou said he wanted the inquiry into the incident completed "within 10 days if possible."
"Pistols are not used by National Guard infantrymen, they are only issued to officers, so there is a question to be answered," he said. "Either the gun had been removed forcibly from some place, in which case responsibility lies solely with the two National Guardsmen, or the gun was not well secured, in which case security regulations were not adhered to."
Dimou told fresh recruits the army was "loosing too many men to car accidents, to accidents in camps and from accidents caused by stupid games."
"Yesterday (Monday), two soldiers were playing with a gun. Does a soldier have any right to be playing with a gun? This shows they were untrained. And yet one fired (the gun) and killed the other," he stated.
The army commander urged recruits strictly to observe all army safety regulations.
The 20-year-old victim's father, a lecturer at the Cyprus University, returned home to Nicosia yesterday after cutting short a trip to a symposium in South Africa.
 Clerides fully satisfied with Russia tripBy Andrew Adamides
PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday left Russia "fully satisfied" with his meetings there.
Speaking at a Moscow press conference to mark the end of his four-day visit, Clerides said that he had explained Cyprus' positions to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and that these had met with "full understanding".
Referring to the S-300 missiles that Cyprus has ordered from Russia, Clerides confirmed that these would now be delivered later in the year, not by the end of August, as had initially been planned. He also repeated that were the Turkish side to accept his proposals for demilitarisation, the missile deal would be cancelled in the context of a gradual running down of military forces on the island, followed by a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
But he added that Cyprus would honour its financial commitment to the deal in full, whether or not the missiles arrived.
Clerides said that elements of the missile batteries had been scheduled for delivery in August, but that it had been decided it would be better to receive the whole system later in the year, and that this had been conveyed to the Russians. He mentioned no specific delivery date, but said he had discussed the possibility of further arms deals with Yeltsin.
Praising the close relations between Russia and Cyprus, Clerides went on to say that he had emphasised to Yeltsin the need for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and had briefed him, as well as his Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, on the intransigence of the Turkish side in the search for a solution.
"The Turkish side does not show the necessary will for a solution," he said, pointing out that all the Denktash regime's conditions -- for official recognition, for the withdrawal of Cyprus' EU application, for the exchange of property and land -- for restarting negotiations between the two sides were against UN resolutions and had been rejected by the international community.
Asked whether Cyprus would take into consideration American proposals aimed at helping UN efforts on Cyprus, including the idea of a no-fly zone, Clerides said all US proposals were considered.
He also clarified that the US, which has shown great concern over the impending deployment of the S-300s, did not question Cyprus' right to arm itself, but rather had warned about what "a continued arms race would contribute to an increased tension between the two sides".
Clerides returned to Cyprus late last night.
His comments on the no-fly zone came as the American Defense News magazine called for all parties with interest in the island to accept the idea as a way to avoid the deployment of the S-300s.
In its July 13-19 issue, the periodical described the decision to buy the missiles as already having "exacerbated" tension in the region, and said the new delay in the missiles' deployment would give both sides "an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of a no-fly zone or other mutually agreed steps that would make the S-300s unnecessary".
The no-fly zone proposal repeated by Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos last week, was described as a "first step" towards the island's demilitarisation, and something over which Greece and Turkey could compromise to produce an outcome favourable to both.
 Turkish Cypriots rise to the Viagra challengeBy Charlie Charalambous
WHILE impotent Greek Cypriots are still trying to remedy the cause of their partner's headache, their counterparts in the north are getting high on Viagra.
Much to the chagrin of Greek Cypriot males, the blue wonder drug has yet to make a face-saving appearance in government-controlled Cyprus, but it is now ready to rekindle passions in the occupied areas.
Viagra will now be available on prescription to Turkish Cypriots, due to "intensive demand" for the pioneering drug.
Burdened with 24 years of political and social division, the announcement that the Denktash regime will make the potency pill available in the north has further damaged the male ego this side of the ceasefire line.
However, Rauf Denktash's efforts to improve his community's sex-drive have also offered his detractors some potent ammunition.
They charge the regime with trying to hide its poor record on social issues by encouraging mass escapism in the shape of the little blue pill.
One Turkish Cypriot newspaper, Avrupa, yesterday slammed the regime for indulging in "non-serious" decision making, labelling it the "Viagra government".
Turkish Cypriot doctors also warned that the lack of controls meant Viagra could end up being used as a potentially dangerous designer drug.
Meanwhile, disadvantaged Greek Cypriot males must wait several more anxious months before knowing whether their sexual frustrations will be liberated.
An application by Geo Pavlides and Araouzos -- the licensed representatives of manufacturing company Pfizer -- to import Viagra has been submitted to the state pharmaceutical service and will come up for consideration by September or October.
Viagra will be available in the free areas soon after, if the application is accepted.
Pharmaceutical service official Vasilis Koupepides has said the drug is still undergoing extensive quality, content and safety testing.
Pavlides and Araouzos are confident they will receive the thumbs up in the autumn.
Koupepides expects the tablets to go on sale for at least £10 each, double their cost in the United States, but the expense is unlikely to stem a tidal wave of demand.
Heralding the imminent arrival of Viagra, Greek Cypriot daily Simerini yesterday suggested the miracle drug would make a perfect Christmas gift and urged women to go out and buy it for their loved ones.
Despite the recent scare stories, Viagra has been an unqualified success since it hit the American market in April.
Global sales are expected to exceed the $1 billion mark in the drug's first year.
 McDonald's chips pay for missilesBRANCHES of McDonald's in mainland Turkey will have had their chips if a Turkish Cypriot official has his way, and all thanks to the S-300 missiles.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Kenan Akin, the Denktash regime's 'Agriculture Minister' (who is also wanted by interpol for the 1996 Dherynia murder of Solomos Solomou) has called on Turkey to boycott the American fast-food chain's popular French fries because the company uses potatoes from Cyprus, and money from potato sales is being spent on armaments.
"The Greek Cypriots are partly financing the purchase of Russian-made missiles through their potato exports to McDonald's" Akin said, continuing: "The people of Turkey, when they buy potato chips at McDonald's, indirectly pay money to the Greek Cypriots. So I call on everyone here to boycott McDonald's chips."
Akin did not say whether the boycott should extend to hamburgers and Big Macs.
McDonald's has opened more than 100 outlets in Turkey. It currently has four in Cyprus.
 University dismisses cover-up claimsCLAIMS of a Cyprus University cover-up of sexual harassment allegations were yesterday dismissed by vice-rector Nicos Papamichael.
"We consider allegations of sexual harassment as very serious and there is no question of a cover-up," Papamichael told the Cyprus Mail.
Papamichael was responding to press reports that the charges were only the tip of the iceberg.
He said the allegation by a female student, who has since graduated, would be "treated with the seriousness it deserves."
The vice-rector is head of a three-member committee appointed to investigate a claim by the student that she was sexually harassed by a lecturer in his study.
Further reports suggest that other students have come forward with similar accusations against the same lecturer.
Informed sources have confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the girl's allegations have been backed up by those of other alleged victims.
But Papamichael would not be drawn on whether the university probe would now look at any additional accusations.
"There has been a complaint by a student against a member of staff. For this reason, the senate appointed a three-member committee to investigate the matter. An investigation is now in progress and I would not like to go into details."
A report on the committee's finding is expected to be concluded by the end of this month, but the findings will not be made public until the senate has studied them.
The university senate is not scheduled to convene until September.
However, the academic establishment is aware of how damaging the issue can be if it is not seen to handle the allegations promptly and effectively.
"Allegations of sexual harassment affect relations between academic staff and students and also affect the reputation of the university," Papamichael said.
One university insider told the Cyprus Mail that the initial allegation was not of a "very serious nature", as it concerned allegedly "suggestive" comments by the lecturer and "nothing physical".
The lecturer is said not to hold a senior position.
 You want water? Move to old NicosiaBy Martin Hellicar
WHILE most Nicosians struggle under a regime of restrictive water cuts, those living within the capital's old city walls enjoy a limitless supply.
But the Nicosia water board says there are good practical and safety reasons for this apparent injustice.
"The only area where there are no water cuts, and never have been, is old Nicosia within the walls, but there are two reasons for this," a senior Nicosia water board engineer said yesterday.
"Firstly, this is a densely built-up area where houses are back to back and there is therefore a danger in case of fire because it can spread fast and the Fire brigade might not be able to get its trucks down the narrow streets," he said. The engineer said having water on-tap at all times was therefore a necessary safety measure in the old town.
"Secondly, old Nicosia is principally a commercial district so use of water during night-time hours is minimal. We found out long ago that whether we cut water or not made no practical difference," he added.
An extra reason is that old Nicosia is a point for transfer of water between the government-controlled and occupied areas, and any cuts might disrupt this, the engineer stated.
He dismissed suggestions water pipes in old Nicosia were so antiquated and decayed that cuts were technically impossible. "Water pipes within old Nicosia were replaced as long ago as 1975. So we can cut water," he said. "But we found cuts made no difference either way," he repeated.
The rest of Nicosia only has piped water for three days a week from 8pm to 7am.
 Civil servant arrested for concealing alleged scamA WATER Development department inspector "cooked the books" to conceal the fact that his subordinates were being used to build his superior's luxury home, a court heard yesterday.
Dimitris Paschalides, from Tseri village outside Nicosia, was remanded for four days by Nicosia District Court.
The 40-year-old civil servant was arrested on Monday after questioning by officers investigating an alleged scam involving Water Development department director Lakis Christodoulides and his plush new home. The investigation was launched in May after police said they caught departmental staff working on the £1 million mansion going up near the new GSP stadium outside Nicosia.
On Monday, police said Paschalides had been arrested on suspicion of making a false statement to case investigators.
The court heard yesterday that Paschalides deliberately falsified entries in a departmental ledger to disguise the hours and days his subordinates had worked on Christodoulides' house.
 2,000 roasted chickensPOLICE believe arsonists may be behind the death of 2,000 chickens burnt alive yesterday when a battery farm in the Aradippou area went up in flames.
The blaze completely gutted the farm, causing an estimated £2,000 worth of damage, police reported.
Police said they could not preclude the possibility that the fire, which broke out just after dawn, had been the work of arsonists.
Owner Antonis Papamichail said he did not have any enemies who might do such a thing.
 Captain of Cyprus ship jailed for oil spillTHE GREEK Captain of a Cypriot-flagged tanker involved in Singapore's worst oil spill has been jailed and fined along with the Polish captain of the ship with which it collided.
Michael Chalkitis, 58, master of the Cypriot-registered Evoikos was jailed for three months and fined a total of around £20,000 after being found guilty on charges of not taking the appropriate evasive action and not keeping a proper lookout. He was released on bail of some £50,000.
Jan Sokolowski, 54, the Polish captain of the Thai supertanker Orapin Global was sentenced to two months and fined £250 for reckless navigation and some £2,500 for speeding.
Chalkitis had pleaded guilty to failing to take sufficient action to avoid a collision with the Orapin Global in the Singapore Strait in October last year. The collision caused the country's worst ever oil spill.
"It is vital that the two sentences to be imposed must serve to deter the accused and other like-minded persons from breaking the law in a similar fashion in the future," said judge Adrian Soon.
Fines alone, he said "would be disproportionate to the gravity and the magnitude of the case".
Lawyers said Chalkitis, who could have been jailed for two years, would appeal against the sentence.
Sokolowski, who faced a maximum of six months, has not decided whether to appeal.
State prosecutors had pushed for stiff penalties on both captains, but especially for Chalkitis who was in charge of a tanker with a huge cargo of oil.
He said Sokolowski had shown "blatant disregard" for other ships and that Chalkitis had acted with "deplorable negligence". Both captains pleaded guilty.
The Evoikos had been bound or Singapore with 126,400 tons of marine fuel oil when the collision occurred.
The Evoikos spilled 29,000 tonnes of oil into the Singapore Strait.
According to reports from Singapore, the sentencing is expected to open the way for civil cases in the affair.
The owners of the Evoikos have already started legal proceedings to limit their liability to pollution claims.
 Civil servants threaten strike over payCIVIL servants are threatening to go on strike to press their demand for a pay rise.
The threat came yesterday after an acrimonious morning meeting between union leaders and top government officials.
Any strike would involve 8,000 civil servants belonging to the Pasiekpeo and Pasieksek unions.
Finance Ministry director Antonis Malao emerged from yesterday's meeting saying that there would be no pay rises this year, and that "the government foresees a rise of 0.75 per cent in 1999."
This was "unacceptable" to Pasieksek's General Secretary, Petros Theophanous, who was backed up by his counterpart from Pasiekpeo, Christos Alekos: he dismissed the offer as "an insult to the responsible position of the unions".
"The government proposals are not worth continuing discussions over," Alekos added.
No date has been set for any strike action.
 Tourist held for cheque book theftA 19-YEAR-OLD British tourist suspected of stealing her sister's cheque book and going on a spending spree is being questioned by police.
Geraldine Burnet from Scotland faces charges of theft, fraud and receiving goods under false pretences after she signed two forged cheques worth £158 at a Larnaca supermarket.
CID officer Charalambos Evdokimou told a Larnaca court that Burnet was staying with her sister and brother-in-law at Dhekelia British base.
During her stay, an argument broke out with the brother-in-law and the cheque book went missing, Evdokimou told the court.
Police said the woman was arrested on Monday and accepted her guilt in a written statement.
Larnaca district court agreed to a six day remand order.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998
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