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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-03-13

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Saturday, March 13, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus Airways offers 22% stake to employees
  • [02] Exhumation deal likely next week
  • [03] United Democrats turn on Michaelides
  • [04] Cyprus protests over new Varosha threats
  • [05] Unions forge ahead but business meetings stalled
  • [06] Government dismay at Rantzau comments
  • [07] Rape doctor jailed for three years
  • [08] Disruption looms over Ayia Napa hotel redundancies
  • [09] Prison warden charged with corruption
  • [10] Counterfeit cigarettes found at Limassol port
  • [11] Britain names new High Commissioner

  • [01] Cyprus Airways offers 22% stake to employees

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday officially offered its employees a 22 per cent stake in the company in exchange for an annual 5 million in cost cutting concessions, an airline spokesman said.

    The offer was made during a marathon meeting of management with CY's five unions as part of an ongoing dialogue on the survival of the troubled airline.

    However, initial reaction from CY's biggest union Cynika was one of marked pessimism rather than cautious optimism.

    "They are offering us a deal worth 1.2 million in exchange for 5 million, " said Cynika chief Costas Demetriou. "Where will the 5 million come from? From the staff of course," he told Cyprus Mail.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the 22 per cent offer to its some 2,000 employees consisted of a 10 per cent share in the profits, six per cent of the airline's shares gratis and further six per cent at a reduced rate.

    He said the offer was in return for cost-cutting concessions leading to savings of 5 million per year.

    Angelis said the cost cutting proposals were directly aimed at reducing the annual 40 million or so wage bill which makes up over 35 per cent of CY's annual costs.

    He was reluctant to talk about redundancies but conceded, "If you change the working practices there will be redundancies." But he said the airline would aim at a voluntary scheme.

    Other methods of saving on staff costs would be the non-replacement of retirees and the establishment of new conditions of employment, including lower wages in hiring practices.

    Wage reductions for existing staff are not likely to be topping the agenda of proposals to staff, most of whom are currently seeking a 4.5 per cent increase in wages and benefits.

    "The five million pounds concessions are directly aimed at staff costs," Angelis said. "If they (the concessions) work they will save money and change the culture and attitude in the company".

    Angelis said the unions had listened to the proposals which also include ideas for cost cutting in other areas such as outsourcing of some services like catering and cleaning.

    He said the unions had asked for some clarifications and would take a decision as soon they had received and considered all the information.

    Cynika's Demetriou said they first want answers on what the government's plans for the airline ultimately were and whether it was to remain the island's national carrier.

    He said they also want specific details of the successful cost cutting plans implemented by British Airways and Dutch airline KLM.

    "We want to know how they did it," he said adding that yesterday's share offer had been made "just to make an impression". These were his initial thoughts, he said.

    Demetriou said he is aware that some of the proposals already existed in the much-touted strategic plan, which the unions are not keen on, but that the they would not make an official statement on the whole matter until they have received all the information.

    The five unions will meet management again next Friday in separate meetings, one on the airline's survival and another relating to pay demands by three of the five unions.

    Pilots and cabin crew who are not members of Cynika are not seeking a pay rise.

    Cyprus Airways Group announced a profit of 5 million for 1998 after two years of losses thanks only to its successful charter firm Eurocypria and recently-established Duty Free Shops Ltd.

    The group also expects a profit this year but unless CY manages to cut costs and unprofitable routes, industry experts predict it will not last the four years leading up to EU membership and full-blown air liberalisation.

    In January this year, the government failed to attract any investors when it put 10 per cent of the airline's shares up for sale as part of its obligations under the Stock Exchange regulations.

    Unfortunately this first bid to reduce the government's share from 80 per cent to 70 which must be completed by September was made at the height of a strike threat over pay which only served to remind investors of the company's rocky relationship with its five unions.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [02] Exhumation deal likely next week

    INTERNATIONAL experts are expected on the island next week to sign a deal with the government to begin exhumation of graves which could contain the remains of some of the missing.

    According to Church-owned TV station Logos last night, the government is at the last stages of the agreement with the three experts who have extensive UN experience.

    Work is expected to being to open the 65 unmarked graves at the cemetery in Lakatamia, long believed to hold the remains of many of the 1,619 missing persons, mostly soldiers who were reported missing after the Turkish invasion in 1974.

    Last year two Greek Cypriot women began digging up graves at a Nicosia cemetery convinced their husbands were buried there.

    The two men were listed on the catalogue of missing persons even though they were confirmed as dead by police.

    Files relating to the whereabouts of some 400 Greek Cypriots and 200 of the 803 Turkish Cypriots missing were exchanged between the two sides at a meeting in January 1998 in line with an agreement between the two leaders the previous July.

    But even though the agreement collapsed within the wide framework of a stalemate in the Cyprus problem, the Greek Cypriot side has said it is ready to proceed with the exhumation of the bodies.

    After remains are exhumed they will be DNA tested at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics which has been gathering data from relatives of the missing for its DNA bank for over a year.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [03] United Democrats turn on Michaelides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    DISY DEPUTY Christos Pourgourides yesterday found an influential ally in his hitherto one-man campaign to topple Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides on sleaze allegations.

    Following last Wednesday's cabinet decision clearing Michaelides of the latest in a string of allegations, the United Democrats, a junior coalition partner, yesterday distanced itself from the government's stance.

    United Democrats' vice president Michalis Papapetrou openly criticised the cabinet's full backing for Michaelides and said the decision had been taken while its minister, Costas Themistocleous, was abroad.

    "Our minister was away when the decision was taken and we will put our position before the House," Papapetrou said yesterday.

    "We consider the cabinet decision on Michaelides invalid, and we will call for political blame to be apportioned to the minister."

    With the UD holding one ministerial post, and tipped to gain more in an expected reshuffle, their opinion will hold some sway in government - not to mention that EU negotiator and former president George Vassiliou is the party's high-profile leader.

    Pourgourides kept on the pressure yesterday, holding a news conference to publicise a letter sent by Michaelides to President Clerides, which apparently proves that the cabinet turned a blind eye to the truth.

    The cabinet decision came in reaction to an Ombudsman's report on allegations that Michaelides used his influence to change a town planning zone where he later built his Limassol villa.

    In its findings, the cabinet said Michaelides bought the land at least three years after the changes.

    But the Michaelides letter shows that one plot was bought months rather than years after the Kalogiron area was turned into a residential zone in 1987, Pourgourides said.

    Close inspection of the Ombudsman's report backs this version of events.

    The House plenum will debate the Michaelides sleaze allegations as a matter of some urgency on Thursday. Whether the minister himself will get to speak before his peers is up to the party leaders.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [04] Cyprus protests over new Varosha threats

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS yesterday protested to the UN over new Turkish threats to settle the ghost town of Varosha.

    The protest, delivered to the ambassadors of the five Permanent representatives of the UN Security Council, was in response to comments by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he could do whatever he wanted with Varosha.

    The Greek Cypriot suburb of the occupied town of Famagusta was a popular tourist resort before the Turkish invasion in 1974, when its inhabitants fled. It has remained abandoned ever since.

    A UN resolution passed in 1984 said no one but the legal inhabitants of Varosha should reside there.

    The resolution considers any attempt to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of the area to the administration of the UN.

    The area is already patrolled by the UN, even though it is not part of the buffer zone which divides the island in two.

    Earlier this week Denktash, said that, although the Varosha issue was not on the agenda, "Varosha is one of our towns. We will do what we want there when we want."

    Press reports in Turkey have said the Turkish Cypriot side was preparing to settle Varosha in retaliation for the Ocalan affair.

    Turkey accuses Greece and the Greek Cypriots of giving active support to Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, whom they seized in Nairobi last month.

    Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Alecos Shambos yesterday lodged the government's official protest with the five embassies.

    Similar representations have been made with the UN in New York and in the capitals of the 'Big Five'.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has repeatedly threatened to settle Varosha over the years.

    The last spate of threats came in 1997 from Serdar Denktash, the son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    He said the Turkish Cypriot side would open it to tourism in retaliation for the now-cancelled Russian missile deal.

    There are 14,000 tourist beds in Varosha's 45 hotels and 60 tourist apartment blocks.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [05] Unions forge ahead but business meetings stalled

    By Jean Christou

    REPRESENTATIVES from unions on both sides of the Green Line met at the Ledra Palace yesterday to further their plans for a third All-Cyprus Trade Union Forum to be held in May.

    It was the second such meeting in a month.

    But the bicommunal Brussels businessmen's ongoing rapprochement appears to have hit a snag over the controversy surrounding the capture by Turkey of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    Greek Cypriot representative for the Brussels Group Constantinos Lordos said yesterday the current climate appeared negative and questioned how the group could continue in the circumstances.

    He was responding to reports in the Turkish Cypriot media that the Ocalan case had created a climate of mistrust.

    "The majority of them (Turkish Cypriot representatives) seem to be under the influence of Mr Denktash, who of course doesn't approve of any degree of rapprochement or of trying to find a solution to the Cyprus problem," Lordos said.

    He said the question now was of finding ways for the Brussels group to carry on.

    "My theory is that we have to carry on but have to find more reliable people to work with," he said.

    The last meeting of the Brussels group took place in Istanbul in December.

    Meanwhile the trade union forum is due to take place on May 28 and 29.

    Three trade unions from each side will take part in the forum, left-wing Peo, right wing Sek and civil servants union Pasidy, along with the Turkish Cypriot unions Turk-Sen, Ktams and Dev-Is.

    The third forum will focus on a review of developments since the last forum in 1998 and issues such as social security.

    The trade union forums are designed to build confidence between the two sides and to help put in place a working system prior to an eventual solution based on a bicommunal bizonal federation.

    Sek deputy general secretary Demetris Kittenis told journalists yesterday that officials and representatives from European and international trade unions would be invited to attend the forum.

    He said 200 officials from 16 trade unions would take part.

    "This third meeting of the unions is an attempt to form a climate of trust, " Kittenis said. "We are going to try and meet on a regular basis."

    Turk-Sen representative Nihad Elmaz said he also hoped the meetings could continue.

    "There's nothing wrong with what we do," he said. "We talk about union issues. We are carrying on for the time being and hope that we can continue to do so."

    Contacts between the two sides have come to a standstill since the end of 1997, when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash called a halt to meetings over the EU's decision to negotiate membership with Cyprus.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [06] Government dismay at Rantzau comments

    THE GOVERNMENT has expressed its dismay at comments by German EU envoy Detlav Grav zu Rantzau blaming both sides for their inflexibility on the Cyprus problem.

    A Foreign Ministry statement issued yesterday said: "The government of Cyprus does not understand how both sides are considered inflexible when Denktash rejects UN resolutions and sets out terms, while our side declares its readiness to negotiate on the basis of resolutions which the international community itself has adopted without preconditions."

    Leaving Cyprus on Thursday, Rantzau had said: "I have not been able to detect on either side a new flexibility or the readiness to enter into a compromise," adding, "I leave Cyprus not optimistic at all."

    The government's view had been echoed earlier in the day by Eurodemocratic Renewal party leader Alexis Galanos, who also questioned the views expressed by the German envoy.

    Galanos told a news conference that the government should take a tougher stand on foreign envoys to Cyprus.

    "I think that as a government we have to take a much stronger stand towards the various representatives, even those from the European Union, which is now being chaired by Germany. Rantzau brought us realism in the sense of 'don't expect and don't promote a solution in the framework of the UN summit or resolutions but, essentially, accept the so called reality as Denktash and Turkey see it.'

    "We have to make it clear from the beginning, we have to say that we won't accept this because it would not make for a correct solution to the Cyprus problem and would only lead us to new problems."

    He said that, if the government continued to allow foreign diplomats to "come and create a certain climate or think they are creating a certain climate, then I think we are going down."

    Galanos added that a message had to be given "to these retiree representatives, counts and such like," that, for Cyprus, realism would not be accepting a division.

    He continued that Cyprus could not be compared to "Kosovo, Yugoslavia or Iraq," which were divided for the sake of "human rights and basic liberties and, if you like, the withdrawal of foreign troops."

    Galanos concluded that Turkey had no political motivation to solve the Cyprus Problem, "even under the solution they now seem to be promoting."

    He repeated that government efforts should put emphasis on informing the international community on the Cyprus Problem, "not only on a political level, meeting with their government counterparts, but on the level of regular people."

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [07] Rape doctor jailed for three years

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A NICOSIA doctor was yesterday sentenced to three years in prison for raping his female patient.

    The doctor was sentenced by the criminal court, sitting in Nicosia, following Thursday's plea for mitigation by his defence.

    Urologist Achilleas Korellis, 44, was found guilty on Wednesday of raping a 21-year-old woman who had visited his surgery with her boyfriend.

    Under the law, rape carries a maximum life sentence.

    The judgment said that Korellis, a family man, had abused his trusted position and that his behaviour was unacceptable and a jail term must serve as a deterrent.

    However, the three-judge bench did take into account that "no violence was used against the woman" and that the act itself lasted a "matter of seconds".

    Korellis' career is almost certainly over, but his lawyers said yesterday they would appeal against the verdict.

    The girl's boyfriend had visited the doctor's Nicosia clinic in August 1996 with a genital complaint after having sex, the court heard.

    But after examining the boyfriend, the doctor told him to leave the room, leaving the woman alone on the pretext he needed to examine her, the court heard.

    She was then told to undress and lie face down on the examination table where the doctor checked her genitals, it was alleged.

    He then came from behind the examining table and tried to have sex with her, the woman said.

    However, the woman managed to repel further advances from Korellis, and, when she turned round, saw the doctor with his trousers down, trying to conceal himself.

    The woman escaped his clutches, ran out of the surgery and told her boyfriend. He then filed a complaint with the director of the clinic, and legal proceedings followed.

    Following the conviction, the Medical Association said it would discuss whether Korellis should be struck off.

    The Medical Association will forward the case to its disciplinary committee.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [08] Disruption looms over Ayia Napa hotel redundancies

    By Athena Karsera

    A NEW strike threat loomed over the hotel industry yesterday with unions warning hoteliers of action if recent job losses in Ayia Napa were not reversed.

    The warning came as ongoing strikes at two Larnaca hotels seemed set to escalate following union meetings.

    Sek and Peo unions decided yesterday that 21 redundancies announced earlier this week at Ayia Napa's Aeneas Hotel violated the Industrial Relations Code. They informed hoteliers' association Pasyxe and the Labour Ministry that action would be taken if negotiations with management proved fruitless.

    Sek hotel representative Nicos Epistethiou dismissed Aeneas management claims that the dismissals were necessary because of low reservations, noting that the hotel had advertised for 10 animators, "so they must have people to entertain".

    Epistethiou said the unions were also investigating reports that the hotel had applied to employ foreign students; "I don't think that a hotel firing Cypriot workers because there is no work would want to employ foreign students or any other foreign workers," he said.

    Peo hotel representative Lefteris Georgiades noted that the problem at the Aeneas was distinct from the dispute with Lordos Holdings in Larnaca.

    Management at the five-star Aeneas Hotel on Wednesday said the redundancies were necessary as reservations for the summer season were low.

    But unions fear the move is part of a broader trend to replace permanent staff with temporary employees.

    Meanwhile, the unions decided on new measures and strategies to drum up financial and moral support for the strikers at Lordos Holdings' Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels in Larnaca, who are now well into their second month on strike.

    They resolved that picketing outside the two hotels would continue, while demonstrations would also be held outside relevant Ministries.

    Pickets at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels have been striking for the reinstatement of 73 colleagues dismissed when sections of the two hotels, and a third closed for the winter season, were turned over to outside contractors.

    Management says the restructuring was essential to cut costs at the hotels and is adamant it will not discuss the redundancies.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [09] Prison warden charged with corruption

    SOCRATIS Socratous, a Nicosia prison warden, was yesterday charged with corruption at the Nicosia District Court and bailed on 2,000.

    Socratous, a warden at Nicosia Central Prison, is accused of accepting 500 to supply an inmate with a mobile phone, forbidden by prison rules. At first, he had been charged with involvement in drawing up an escape plan by the inmate, possessing a firearm and being paid for his contribution. After investigation, however, the charges were scaled down.

    The authorities also asked for Socratous' name to be placed on the stop list, but the court refused the request, ruling instead that he must report to a police station every Saturday. He will appear in court again at a later date.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [10] Counterfeit cigarettes found at Limassol port

    LIMASSOL police said yesterday they had launched an investigation into the discovery of a container full of counterfeit cigarettes at the port.

    The container was confiscated on March 3 after a tip-off that, instead of toys, it continued cigarettes.

    Following a search by customs officials, 26 of the 802 boxes in the container were found to contain the registered cargo of children's toys. The remainder contained counterfeit top brand cigarettes worth more than 300,000.

    Police said the specific container had come from the Greek port of Piraeus and was probably destined for Lebanon.

    There was no name for the collector of the container.

    The cigarettes were confiscated and sent to the state laboratory for tests, where it was established they were counterfeits.

    Meanwhile, in a separate case, German police arrived on the island yesterday to extradite a Czech national wanted in Germany on suspicion of trafficking in illegal cigarettes to Germany and the Czech Republic.

    Richard Hulnsky is suspected of involvement in the export of some 36 containers full of cigarettes worth 17 million between September 1995 and September 1996.

    He was arrested in Larnaca in September 1998 with the help of Interpol and German police and his extradition was approved last month.

    Saturday, March 13, 1999

    [11] Britain names new High Commissioner

    EDWARD Clay, a former British High Commissioner to Kampala and Ambassador to Rwanda was yesterday announced as the new High Commissioner to Cyprus.

    He replaces David Madden, who is moving to take up the position of Ambassador to Athens. Madden was originally to be replaced by John Martin, who died unexpectedly in January.

    Married with three daughters, Clay, 54, has also previously served as Counsellor and Head of Chancery in Nicosia. He is currently serving as a Director of Public Services at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

    Clay will take over as High Commissioner in May.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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