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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, March 24, 2001


  • [01] Hopes for solution in Eurocypria dispute
  • [02] EAC warns of more power cuts if sub-stations are not approved
  • [03] Lellos: 'old fashioned' antiquities officials blocking development
  • [04] Markides: Of course I'll investigate Turkish Cypriot abuse claim
  • [05] Health scheme protest: Unions fix 24-hour strike
  • [06] Strike threat over Hilton redundancy plan
  • [07] 7 extra to fly to Athens
  • [08] Two remanded after forgery arrest
  • [09] 'Dead' woman out of intensive care

  • [01] Hopes for solution in Eurocypria dispute

    By Jean Christou MEDIATION will begin on Tuesday between Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas, Eurocypria pilots and Cyprus Airways (CY) management to resolve the dispute over captain promotions.

    "The Minister of Labour called us today to begin the mediation on Tuesday," said Alecos Tassouris from SEK union, which represents the Eurocypria pilots. "We have postponed the strike measures to give the Minister an opportunity to meet us."

    After weeks of remaining tight-lipped on the issue, CY chairman Haris Loizides spoke to the Cyprus Mail about the long-running dispute. He said he believed the minister has found a way out of the deadlock. "It's a solution that could be accepted by everyone," he said.

    Eurocypria pilots, who have been at loggerheads for years with their CY counterparts over promotions in the charter firm, gave notice of strike action on March 2.

    The issue came to a head three weeks ago, when CY pilots' union PASIPY allegedly ordered the company to halt the promotion of a Eurocypria first officer.

    Loizides confirmed the promotion, a gesture of goodwill to the Eurocypria pilots as a means to help end the dispute, had been frozen after PASIPY found out about it.

    "That is the only mistake I have made regarding this issue in the past year. I blame myself and I took the responsibility for it," he said, adding that the decision was taken hastily amid the recent hectic fleet-renewal negotiations.

    "That was my mistake. I should have said no. But I was too busy with too many things."

    Loizides said arrangements to send the trainee captain abroad had been made so quickly he did not have time to brief PASIPY about the goodwill gesture and was on his way to the US.

    "Unfortunately, they found out," he said, adding that they accused the company of violating an agreement they signed last year on the number of promotions CY co-pilots would receive in Eurocypria.

    "They said they were going to ground Cyprus Airways," he said. The company subsequently put a freeze on the promotion. "Then I came back and found this hot potato on my plate."

    Negotiations with the company had already broken down before the promotion incident, when CY sent in six more co-pilots to the charter firm with whom the Eurocypria pilots now refuse to fly.

    CY's collective agreement with the charter firm clearly states that captain vacancies can only be given to Eurocypria pilots with at least three years' experience within the company. This was upheld in arbitration last year.

    Delving deep into the history of the complex problem involving several different unions, Loizides said that particular agreement had been made when both Eurocypria pilots were all members of PASIPY.

    However, the charter firm's pilots allegedly ran with the agreement and joined SEK, claiming it allowed them to keep the promotions for themselves.

    "It's what the agreement says and they are right. I'm not saying they are not right," Loizides said. "I feel the Eurocypria guys have a point, but I feel the other guys have a point too."

    He said CY co-pilots, some of whom have been in the job for 15 years without a promotion, were aggrieved when they saw "a youngster of 24 becoming a captain" with just three years' experience just because there was an agreement, which was actually achieved by their own union.

    "If everyone was a member of PASIPY, we wouldn't have these problems, and the airline is right in the middle in this conflict," Loizides said.

    "And you won't see 25 and 26-year-olds becoming captains in any other airline. Event after event after event led to this situation. There is no black or white. Every side has a point and a right."

    He said the biggest problem was too many unions. "It has always been this airline's problem trying to juggle and keep everyone happy," he said. "This story is a slow death process. I'd rather have a strike that I know how to defend than these go slows."

    Loizides said pilots were the same the world over.

    "When they feel there is a surplus of pilots they are very nice and sweet but when there is a shortage they become the most arrogant people," he said. "Either you have to find a way to solve problems for them or sometimes you have to punch them in the nose."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] EAC warns of more power cuts if sub-stations are not approved

    By Jennie Matthew THE ELECTRICITY Authority (EAC) said yesterday that major blackouts would continue to strike the country, as long as government departments continued to drag their feet in approving new installations.

    They said only two out of 11 applications for new sub-stations and overhead wiring had been approved since 1991.

    As a result, the pressure on existing stations is tremendous, making power cuts, such as those that disabled Nicosia last summer, more likely.

    The EAC claims it took 10 years to get permission to install overhead wiring in Trimiklini and Kouka villages.

    It took four years to transfer the necessary land from private to government ownership. Then it took another three years to get a permit from Town Planning - finally granted in December 1999.

    But resistance from villagers put the plan on ice, and the House Environment Committee put forward proposals to build a sub-station in another area.

    In January 2001, the Limassol Commissioner promised that all relevant permits would be issued. The EAC are still waiting.

    "We always plan on a 10-year basis, but unfortunately we can't proceed with any schemes until permits and approval have been acquired from various government departments and authorities," the assistant commercial manager at the EAC, Tassos Roussos, told the Cyprus Mail.

    Permission is required from the Department of Town Planning and the local authorities, as well as the Department of Antiquities if the project falls within archaeologically sensitive areas.

    "It's a very time-consuming process, troubled by a lot of resistance from pressure groups regarding strong magnetic fields. Everyone wants power and air-conditioning, but no one wants cables," said Roussos.

    To date, plans to install a sub-station have been delayed nine years in Ayia Napa, four years in Larnaca, three years in Omonia and Tseri, two years in Paralimni and a year in Athienou.

    Overhead wiring between Polemidia and Ypsonas has been delayed by four years and by one year between Tseri and the Vassiliko power station.

    But government departments yesterday told Cyprus Mail that no application took longer than a year to approve.

    The Department of Antiquities said straightforward cases were answered at once. Other applications were more complicated.

    "But they don't take longer than a year. We answer within 15 days or a month," said Maria Hadjicostis.

    "If it's a simple case, then it's three months. But 99 per cent of them present a lot of problems and local authorities object all the time. They can end up going through the Council of Ministers, which takes six to eight months," said Christos Ktorides from Town Planning. He denied that a case could take over a year.

    The EAC blamed power cuts in Nicosia last year on a routine fault at a sub- station. With plans for new stations on ice, there is no way to improve the situation.

    Instead, demand for power only increases, as new buildings go up and air conditioning becomes de rigueur.

    "The pressure is tremendous. In the last two or three years, but particularly last summer, the phenomenon was unprecedented. In Nicosia alone, suppliers were installing 600 pieces of air conditioning every day, and on the whole island it was 2,000 a day," said Roussos.

    Sub-stations are to electricity what wells are to water. As demand increases, the well runs dry and when the pump fails, more people suffer.

    "But the problem isn't increase in demand, but the delay in getting approval," he added.

    "The most serious factor is the unwillingness to take decisions," said another electricity professional.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Lellos: 'old fashioned' antiquities officials blocking development

    By Melina Demetriou NICOSIA Mayor Lellos Demetriades yesterday accused the Antiquities Department of standing in the way of development.

    Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail that the Public Works Department had given its consent to a plan to fill part of the moat beneath the capital's 16th century Venetian walls and build an underground parking lot beneath.

    "We plan to fill in the moat to make a parking lot and plant grass on the surface. At the moment, the moat serves as a parking place, but it looks messy. The Antiquities Department is unfortunately opposing our ides, fearing the project will destroy the walls. But the Public Works Department has conducted a study and concluded that the walls will in no way be affected by the development," Demetriades said.

    The Mayor pledged that the Antiquities Department had "old fashion views" and complained that it had many times tried to prevent the realisation of development projects.

    "Their attitude is unacceptable. Of course, we want to protect monuments, but there is a way of doing that at the same time as making them part of development. That's what happens in Europe. And needles to say, Cyprus is the only place where a state department gets in the way of development," Demetriades charged.

    The Mayor said that two specialist from UNESCO had been invited to Cyprus to conduct a study and deem whether the project could go ahead.

    The specialists are expected in Cyprus in about a month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Markides: Of course I'll investigate Turkish Cypriot abuse claim

    By Jean Christou ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides said yesterday he had every intention of launching a probe into the alleged manhandling of a Turkish Cypriot journalist by a plain-clothes police officer outside Larnaca court on Tuesday.

    "Of course I'm going to investigate it," Markides told the Cyprus Mail. He said he had not yet had a chance to appoint an investigator, but would probably do so on Monday.

    "Before appointing someone, I have to contact him first and see if he accepts," he said.

    The call to investigate the allegations came from the Union of Journalists on Thursday, following a complaint from the Turkish Cypriot journalists` union after one of its members claimed the officer slapped him and had his film confiscated.

    The incident occurred outside Larnaca court on Tuesday, immediately after the 10-year sentencing of Turkish Cypriot drugs smuggler Omer Tekogul.

    Since Tuesday, local media have reported that Turkish spies posing as journalists had been collared outside the courthouse after being caught filming police officers and a National Guard camp across the road.

    But eyewitnesses say the Turkish Cypriot reporter from Kibris newspaper was manhandled by a plain-clothes police officer, had his face slapped and his film confiscated. The officer had not identified himself, according to one Greek Cypriot photographer, who tried to help his colleague.

    Authorities later confirmed that nothing incriminating had been found in the confiscated film.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Health scheme protest: Unions fix 24-hour strike

    By Melina Demetriou CIVIL servants' and bank employees' unions yesterday announced they were going on a 24-hour strike hour strike on Wednesday to protest against the controversial National Health Plan. Teachers' unions are expected to announce strike measures any day soon.

    The unions are joining forces to destroy government plans to introduce a universal health scheme, threatening more strikes if the House plenum approves the relevant bill. The last working session of the current parliament, on May 5, is the most likely date for a long-awaited vote on the bill.

    The government health plan provides for employees, employers and the self- employed making set contributions to a scheme in exchange for comprehensive medical cover at hospitals. The plan is vehemently opposed by several trade unions who do not see why their members should contribute to a state plan when they already have their own provisions, at the same time as questioning the scheme's feasibility.

    "Are the Health Minister, the deputies and the Cabinet aware of experts' views on the matter? They are about to go ahead with a plan to cost the state 400 million without knowing anything about it," Glafcos Hadjipetrou, Secretary-general of civil servants' union PASIDY charged yesterday after the unions' decision to go on strike.

    Secondary schoolteachers' union OELMEK and elementary schoolteachers' union POED, as well as EPOPAI, the CyTA workers' union, followed suit, saying they would too announce strike measures in the coming days. The Policemen and Senior Officers' Association has sided with the protestors.

    The President of bank workers' union ETYK, Loizos Hadjicostas, yesterday said the strike measures would push the government and the legislature to examine the situation more carefully and finally see eye to eye with the unions.

    The measures are likely to put pressure on parties to defy the government proposal as the announced strikes will be staged only a day ahead of a meeting of the House Health Committee where deputies are due to position themselves on the contentious bill. DISY, KISOS and EDI have backed the plan while AKEL and DIKO remain sceptical.

    Savvides, who attended Thursday's Health Committee meeting, called for the plan to be approved. He said it was high time the country had a "comprehensive" health plan, adding that this was an EU harmonisation requirement.

    Savvides has tabled a number of amendments to the plan before the committee, with the aim of appeasing detractors. Among these were the abolition of the two per cent contribution from pensioners who have a monthly income of less than 300 and guarantees that state hospitals would remain under government control.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Strike threat over Hilton redundancy plan

    By George Psyllides THE ISLAND's main trade unions yesterday warned of industrial action if the Hilton management went ahead with its decision to sack 20 employees of the luxurious hotel.

    SEK and PEO said they had already taken a decision to strike if the hotel's management sacked 20 employees who occupied positions the Hilton said it wanted to eliminate.

    PEO official Lefteris Georgiades told the Cyprus Mail that his union considered the sackings unjustifiable.

    He said he was not convinced by the hotel's reasons, adding: "We view it as an alibi to justify the sackings."

    Georgiades said that on Thursday, when both sides last met, it seemed that all dialogue had been exhausted and that there was no common ground for the two sides.

    "We hope that the management thinks the issue over and does not dismiss any personnel," Georgiades said.

    SEK's reaction was similar.

    Mimis Theodotou said the unions had been engaged in negotiations for two months now but to no avail.

    He said the management was trying to cut 14 career positions, something, which meant "self mutilation".

    "Who would want to enter the field if there was no future?" he said.

    "The management said they were restructuring operations, they wanted a more horizontal management," Theodotou said.

    The 14 jobs involve mid-management personnel, supervisors and department assistants.

    Theodotou said there was an ongoing mediation effort by the Labour Ministry, and on Monday there would be a meeting of all those concerned to discuss any developments.

    "We won't take any measures if the management does not proceed with the sackings," Theodotou said.

    "We want to talk and we want to have a say in what happens," he added.

    "Anything agreed that was a product of negotiations we will respect," he said.

    Theodotou stressed that collective negotiation was the cornerstone of the labour relations structure and that unions would do anything to keep it that way, by not allowing arbitrary actions.

    The Hilton was previously owned by the Cyprus Tourism Development Company, in which the government held an 81.34 per cent stake.

    It was sold to the Louis group last year for 23.6 million.

    The hotel is managed under contract by Cyprus Hilton Ltd (Hilton International) for the next 13 years with a renewal option of 10 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] 7 extra to fly to Athens

    By a Staff Reporter PASSENGERS flying to Athens with Cyprus Airways will have to pay an extra 7 on the fare because of the cost of the new Athens' Airport's services.

    Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Spata will officially open its doors on Wednesday next week. Each passenger flying to Athens from Cyprus will cost the carrier an extra 13 because of the airport's expensive services.

    Haris Loizides, President of Cyprus Airways said yesterday: "Each traveller will have to pay an extra 7, that will cover part of the cost. We are thinking of ways to cover the remaining cost."

    A standard flight ticket to Athens costs about 130.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Two remanded after forgery arrest

    By a Staff Reporter TWO suspected banknote forgers allegedly caught in the act were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days by a Larnaca district court after a long police undercover operation.

    Thomas Aten Ewow, 28 of Cameroon, and Lule Moses from Uganda, aged 25, have been charged with conspiracy to defraud, forgery and possession of banknotes and soliciting money under false pretences.

    According to police reports, the two men arrived on the island on March 5. Police said they would continuously check in and out of different hotels and switch rented cars as a precaution to avoid detection. Their alleged operation was uncovered by a team of police officers posing as customers.

    The officers had arranged a meeting with Ewow, who offered to forge $100 bills for a 30 per cent commission fee. The officers were actually given an on-the-site demonstration by Ewow, who claimed he could produce up to $1.5 million.

    On realising the meeting was a set-up Ewow told the officers "I am really sorry, I made a mistake." Police found at the site 12 packages of dark- coloured paper, each containing a thousand $100 bills, and the necessary chemicals and equipment. The counterfeit dollars were wrapped in aluminium foil. The evidence was sent for further investigations to the state lab.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] 'Dead' woman out of intensive care

    By Noah Haglund AN ELDERLY woman pronounced dead by staff at her Paphos nursing home has now left intensive care, a hospital official said yesterday.

    Nursing home staff on Thursday morning told the family of 85-year-old Evdokia Kyriacou that she was dead.

    The family had already planned much of her funeral when they learned that she was still alive.

    Kyriacou's condition has improved since her admission to Paphos hospital and she had left the intensive care ward by yesterday afternoon, a staff member who wished to remain anonymous informed the Cyprus Mail.

    The macabre mistake came about when staff at the home where Kyriacou was living pronounced her dead before a doctor had examined her.

    The woman's son was notified shortly afterwards by the head of the private nursing home.

    He immediately went to the home and notified the rest of the family.

    "I went into the room and there was a nurse and another staff member who told me my mother had just died," her son, Rolandos Kyriacou, told Sigma TV.

    He added: "I said 'are you sure?' and they replied 'Yes'. They lifted her arm up to show me she was dead."

    All the relatives gathered at the woman's home and they notified the priest to arrange for the funeral proceedings, which were scheduled for 4 pm on Thursday.

    "I told her family she was dead, then I arranged for a priest, I selected the grave site and called for a hearse," said Rolandos Kyriacou.

    Shortly after midday, a doctor on duty at Paphos hospital found that she wasn't dead, but in a coma due to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).

    "I don't know whether to laugh or cry," Kyriacou said

    It is still unclear why the nursing home notified the family without following the legal procedure when someone dies at a home.

    "I am disappointed about the way they tried to sort it out," said Costas Ioannides, president of the Cyprus Association of Nursing Homes.

    "When someone dies in a nursing home, the first thing to do is to call a doctor to declare a person dead," he added.

    Ioannides planned to go to Paphos yesterday afternoon for an in depth investigation of the incident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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