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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Bank staff to strike against health plan
  • [02] Town planning ultimatum to IMC
  • [03] Michaelides party rejects alliance with DISY
  • [04] Soldier in a coma after crash
  • [05] Lebanese pledge on immigrants
  • [06] Island states gather for global warming debate

  • [01] Bank staff to strike against health plan

    By Melina Demetriou BANK employees will go on strike for two hours tomorrow, threatening to take it "as far as it goes" unless the government agrees to exclude them from contributing to the National Health Plan, expected to be implemented in about a year's time.

    Announcing the decision, the secretary general of the bank employees' union ETYK, Loizos Hadjicostis, said the strike - from 10.30am to 12.30 - would be the first in a series of measures.

    Responding to the threats, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said there was no chance he would agree to satisfying the union's demands.

    Bank employees, who are already provided with medical coverage by employers, argue the health plan will be a total disaster.

    "We are positive that a National Health Plan will be ineffective as it is in most European countries such as Greece and Britain. Our medical coverage works just fine and we do not want to give it up," said Hadjicostis.

    "We are the only union asking to be excluded from the health plan. I do think that if the plan covered 97 per cent of the population instead of 100 per cent it would make it less operational," he added.

    Hadjicostis argued the government was reluctant to exclude bank employees from the national plan, fearing it would pale in comparison to currently private plans covering his members.

    The national scheme will cover the basic medical needs of all Cypriots - expenses, including doctors' appointments, medicines, common operations etc. Working people will contribute less than five per cent of their salaries to the public health fund, according to their financial situation and marital status.

    Bank employees currently pay about one to two per cent of their salary to be covered by bank medical plans, which cover about 70 per cent of medical expenses.

    The Health Minister yesterday dismissed the bank employees' demands as unacceptable, and said they would not to be satisfied.

    "ETYK have never discussed the matter with the government and have not convinced me that their demands are worth looking into. They just want to create a gap between them and other employees. And all the others will have to pay more to cover the cash shortfall," Savvides said.

    "We want everyone to enjoy the same social benefits."

    The minister expressed his belief that most bank employees would not support their union's decision to take action demanding to be excluded from the National Health Plan.

    One bank employee yesterday told the Cyprus Mail he would not mind being included in the national plan.

    "It would cost me a little bit more but I am not selfish. The National Health Plan would benefit those who are not as wealthy as I am and we should all contribute to it."

    But he pointed out some weaknesses of the NHP highlighted by his union.

    "ETYK objects to the plan partly because it provides that we would not be able to see a doctor of our choice. We would have to see a family GP who would direct us to a specialised doctor of his or her choice according to the kind of health problem," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Town planning ultimatum to IMC

    By Jennie Matthew A MISPLACED bank and lack of car park signs threaten the future of the Stock Market and the IMC building unless immediate action is taken to rectify the situation, the Town Planning Department has ruled.

    But the owner of the IMC, George Kaisis, yesterday accused the press of gross exaggeration over alleged illegalities and said there was no question of closing down the Stock Market.

    The Town Planning Department sent a letter to the IMC last week asking it to rectify three violations of the licensing agreement before January 23.

    "There are some formal differences with the Town Planning Department, two of which are very minor and one is a result of misinformation," Kaisis told the Cyprus Mail.

    Perhaps the most serious violation is the precise location of the Universal Bank branch in the building.

    While the IMC is licensed to house two banks (the Universal Bank is currently the only one), they set up shop on the left hand side of the ground floor entrance, whereas the licence stipulates that the bank must be on the right hand side.

    Universal chose the left hand side because the walls carve out a "corner" deemed more suitable for an office of its size.

    Kaisis admits that perhaps the IMC ignored the stipulations of the licence, but said he would apply to alter the positioning of the bank before the end of the week.

    He is reluctant to move the bank because of the expense of renovating and equipping the left-hand-side office.

    On the other allegations, he claimed that Town Planning were "misinformed" that retailing operates from the IMC, when the building has been given a licence for wholesaling only.

    Kaisis says the ground floor cash and carry store, where customers must buy in bulk - a minimum six-fold purchase of any one product - qualifies as a wholesale outlet.

    The other problem is the lack of signposting in the car park to allocate spaces for the different companies in the building.

    Kaisis said the signposting issue was being dealt with and should be in place as soon as possible.

    He was confident that the "minor" infractions could be cleared up as quickly as possible.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Michaelides party rejects alliance with DISY

    By a Staff Reporter FORMER Interior Minister, Dinos Michaelides, has got his nemesis, DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides, out of a tight spot by announcing that his fledgling party, ADIK, will not be accepting an invitation to form an alliance with governing DISY for the May parliamentary elections.

    Last week, suggestions that his party was about to ally itself with ADIK - the party Michaelides set up two years ago after Pourgourides' persistent corruption charges forced him out of office -- had the DISY deputy threatening to abandon the governing party.

    Pourgourides insisted his objections to an alliance with Micharlides' party were based not on personal differences but on his abhorrence of "political expediency". Pourgourides said ADIK and DISY simply did not see eye to eye on basic issues, such as the Cyprus problem.

    Michaelides insisted DISY and ADIK had common political common ground to spare. The ex-Minister suggested Pourgourides' objections were based purely on personal animosity.

    But, by yesterday, the whole issue had been resolved, not by the ex- Minister or the deputy but by the ADIK central committee, which on Sunday voted to turn down the DISY offer. ADIK reportedly feel they have enough support of their own to get them into parliament for the first time after the May elections.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Soldier in a coma after crash

    By a Staff Reporter A 20-YEAR-OLD National Guardsman seriously injured in a horrific car crash on the Nicosia to Palechori road just before dawn on Sunday was yesterday still in a coma at the Nicosia General hospital.

    Police say excessive speed was the most likely cause for Marios Constantinou's car veering off the road and smashing into an electricity pole near Arediou village, south of Nicosia. The force of the impact broke the pole in two - cutting electricity supply to 15 villages in the area for 10 hours - and left the soldier's car a mangled mess.

    Constsantinou, from Klirou village, was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to hospital. Doctors yesterday said he was in a coma and breathing with the help of a ventilator.

    The Arediou Mukhtar, George Michail, said the stretch of road the accident happened on was an accident black spot and called on the government to widen to road, adding that he had lodged a relevant request with the Communications and Works Ministry four years ago.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Lebanese pledge on immigrants

    By a Staff Reporter BEIRUT yesterday promised to step up measures to block illegal immigrants heading for Cyprus, just hours after the island's coast guard headed off a vessel suspected of carrying 500 boat people from Lebanon.

    The suspect boat was spotted about 20 nautical miles off Cape Greco - a favourite drop-off point for illegal immigrants -- late on Sunday night. The boat was intercepted by the Cyprus coast guard and prevented from approaching the island. It was not clear yesterday where the unwanted vessel had gone on to.

    In Nicosia yesterday morning, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou had a meeting with the visiting head of the Lebanese security forces, Jamil El Sayed. El Sayed promised "more and more measures" would be taken to prevent illegal immigrants from setting off for Cyprus from his country.

    Christodoulou welcomed the promises of tougher action, noting that "thousands" of illegal immigrants left Lebanon for Cyprus every year. The Minister said it was impossible for Cyprus police to keep them all out.

    Arrivals of boat people have become an increasingly large thorn in the government's side over the last two years. The majority of these immigrants are said to leave from the coasts of Lebanon and Syria. Nicosia has agreements with both Beirut and Damascus for the return of immigrants shown to have set out from Lebanon or Syria.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Island states gather for global warming debate

    By Martin Hellicar COUNTRIES in the climate change firing line got together in Nicosia yesterday to discuss ways of optimising energy use in order to stem greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming.

    Representatives from 39 of the 43 members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) began a five-day workshop on "Energy Sustainability for Development" at the Hilton hotel.

    Many of the attending island states - such as the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands - face the threat of being wiped off the map as sea levels rise due to melting polar ice caps and the thermal expansion of the oceans.

    As well as tackling energy efficiency issues, the AOSIS countries - comprising Caribbean, Pacific and Indian island states plus Cyprus and Malta - hope to draw up a common position ahead of the forthcoming 9th session of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development.

    One of the key speakers at yesterday's all-day session, Professor Albert Binger of the University of West Indies in Jamaica, laid out the dangers of global warming for islands.

    "If the greater climate system is not working you will be affected. Coasts and climate will be affected, reducing earnings from tourism, fisheries and agriculture. It will make things very hard. A country cannot be sustainable with climate change," Binger told delegates.

    Though Cyprus does not face the same threat of total inundation as some smaller AOSIS members, rising sea levels could flood low-lying coastal areas such as the site of the Larnaca airport.

    "We need to move from the current non-sustainable energy policies to more sustainable energy use," the Jamaican professor said, pointing the finger at over-dependence on oil as the main problem. Rooftop solar heaters aside, Cyprus is totally dependent on imported oil for its energy needs.

    Sustainable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, do not impact on the environment and allow greater dependence on "indigenous" energy sources, Binger said.

    The professor spoke of the huge potential of solar power for AOSIS countries: "Every day, the sun provides the energy equivalent to 30,000 barrels of oil on every hectare of our land," he said.

    Binger also said there was an urgent need to increase energy provision in many countries.

    "More than 2 billion people on the planet lack access to basic energy services. Quality of life is directly proportional to availability of energy," he said.

    This burning need for more energy made the adoption of efficient and sustainable energy policies even more pressing, Binger suggested.

    The AOSIS workshop was opened by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who, in his speech welcoming delegates, spoke of the importance of co- ordinated efforts to improve energy use efficiency while also making extensive reference to the Cyprus problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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