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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-10-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Wednesday, October 31, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] PEO isolated as airport returns to normal
  • [02] DIKO chooses candidate for Mayor of Nicosia
  • [03] Tainted oil was specific batch only
  • [04] Britons still like Cyprus but September arrivals down
  • [05] Taxi owners in angry House demo
  • [06] Waste processing center to replace hospital incinerators
  • [07] Matsakis slams bombing of civilians
  • [08] Kyprianou recovering from lung infection

  • [01] PEO isolated as airport returns to normal

    By Jean Christou

    LARNACA Airport returned to normal yesterday, as only 40 workers affiliated to left-wing union PEO continued strike action, which had crippled operations on Monday.

    Some 80 members of the two other main unions representing airport staff, right-wing SEK and civil servants' union PASYDY, refrained from yesterday's four-hour strike, which again began at 3pm.

    None of the three unions have officially backed their members' strike action, which left thousands of passengers stranded at Larnaca on Monday.

    The workers are protesting against the government's plans to call in private investors to expand the island's two airports, fearing they would lose their jobs. The issue will be brought before parliament for a final vote on Thursday.

    Vassos Pyrgos, Permanent Secretary of the Communications and Works Ministry, told the Cyprus Mailyesterday afternoon that when yesterday's strike began at 3pm, only the 40 PEO members from a total shift of 120 staff stopped working. He did not foresee any disruption to flights. Only 12 incoming and outgoing flights were due at Larnaca between 3pm and 7pm yesterday and Air Traffic Control suspended an earlier warning to airlines to avoid Larnaca.

    Over 50 flights were affected on Monday after the airport workers staged their strike.

    Communication and Works Minister Averof Neophytou called the action an act of terrorism and anarchy.Strikers included baggage handlers, drivers, porters and cleaners.

    Pyrgos said that once the strike had finished at 7pm on Monday, it was just a matter of a 'couple of hours' before operations returned to normal.

    " Today is Tuesday so it's quiet at the airport and if it's only the PEO workers on strike it should not affect flights,"he said.

    Pyrgos said a meting would take place early today with the unions in an effort to avoid any more strike action later this afternoon. The workers have vowed to continue to disrupt services until parliament meets on the issue. " We hope yesterday's situation will not be repeated,"he said. " Had we been told in advance on Monday we could have made arrangements with the airlines to reschedule their flights and avoid the strike hours. It's a matter of ethics."

    The workers from the three unions who staged Monday's strike had not indicated by 2pm that they would be on strike an hour later. Under the industrial relations code, they are obliged to give 10 days' notice to employers and the Labour Ministry.

    Earlier yesterday, members of SEK and PASYDY assured their unions that they would not be participating in the extended measures.

    Defiant PEO members said they were determined to go ahead with the strike, that their position was non-negotiable and that they would not back down.

    PEO member Panicos Louca said that although the union did not officially sanction the measures, it understood the fears of its members. He also said the union had take exception to Neophytou's statements on the strike.

    " We do not accept the Minister's statements. We are neither terrorists nor anarchists, just workers protesting against privatisation,"he said.

    " We want the airport to be kept by the state, and the protests, which will continue, are a way for the workers to let it be known that they feel their livelihood is in danger. They feel insecure."

    The union's general secretary Bambis Kiritzis said the words used by the Minister reminded him of certain periods of history, " which are long gone" .

    " The workers are just fed up,"he said. " They believe the decision the government is trying to implement goes against the public interest and against the workers in a broader sense and that it's a decision that would only serve the interests of large multinational companies."

    SEK deputy general secretary Nicos Moiseos said his union couldn't ignore the concerns of the workers but that the issues had been discussed with the government, which had promised that no one would lose their job.

    " We have written statement from the ministry replying to their worries and guaranteeing their positions and conditions,"he said. " What I want to convey to the workers is that there are changes happening and the union movement will deal with the changes with all its power. We aim to defend and protect workers' interests but it's not our right to take law into our own hands and impose on parliament what development projects they should or should not carry out."

    Neophytou yesterday repeated his criticism of the workers. He said what had happened on Monday was not a strike but " a strike against strikes in general" .

    The tourism sector was also in an uproar yesterday over the strike.

    The Association of Cyprus Travel Agents called it a " huge blow to tourism" , while the Association of Tourist Enterprises (STEK), which covers luxury hotels, condemned the action as " irresponsible" .

    The Cyprus Hoteliers' Association was concerned over the damage caused to the island's image as a tourist destination but congratulated Neophytou for his tough stance.

    The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) said the workers' actions were " unjustified and condemnable"and would have catastrophic consequences on the economy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] DIKO chooses candidate for Mayor of Nicosia

    By Rita Kyriakides

    D.I.K.O. last night announced its choice of candidate for the Nicosia Municipality elections.

    Former party member Kypros Chrysostomides, a lawyer who is currently president of the EPALXI political movement, was chosen by consensus after a three and a half hour meeting.

    DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos called Chrysostomides an ideal candidate who " will be good for the capital" .

    The decision still has to be approved by the opposition coalition but is not likely to be challenged as DIKO was given first call on the candidate for mayor of Nicosia.

    DIKO is contesting the December 16 elections in coalition with AKEL and KISOS.

    Before the final decision, two of DIKO's possible coalition candidates for the Nicosia municipality withdrew their names just a day after the party had put them forward.

    George Colocassides yesterday chose to withdraw his name " for personal reasons" .

    Colocassides, who failed to get elected to parliament on the DIKO ticket in May, had said on Monday he was not sure if he wanted to stand for the Nicosia post.

    Former government spokesman Christos Stylianides, whose name had not been announced on Monday, also said yesterday he did not want to be considered as candidate.

    DIKO had said on Monday it had a fifth candidate up its sleeve, but would not name him or her until the time was right. It was not clear last night whether this referred to Stylianides or Chrysostomides.

    On Monday, the party's secretary general Andreas Angelides named four possible candidates - Stelios Ieronimides, Pavlos Theodotou, Nicos Mesaritis and George Colocassides - as well as speaking of the mystery fifth.

    The opposition coalition have agreed to share out a total of 24 municipal posts. Intensive discussions are being held this week are to decide most of the coalition's candidates.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Tainted oil was specific batch only

    THE HEALTH Ministry has clarified that the Macheras olive oil pulled from the market as unsuitable for consumption was pomace oil, and only from a specific batch.

    According to Chief Health Ministry Inspector Lakis Anthousis, the tainted pomace oil has a September 2003 expiry date.

    " Consumers should get rid of these bottles of pomace oil, which should have been removed from the shelves of supermarkets over one and a half months ago,"Anthousis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    Tests done on the oil by the Health Ministry showed that it contained certain hydro-carbonates that are unfit for human consumption.

    Members of the Health Ministry visited stores to remove the tainted oils over a month ago and sent samples to England for testing.

    It was discovered the oil had not been properly refined.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Britons still like Cyprus but September arrivals down

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is still one of the top holiday destinations from Britons, according to a survey in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

    The paper said it had sent out 25,000 holiday questionnaires to discover what British holidaymakers thought of the travel industry. Categories included the best and worst holiday destinations, tour operators, cities, hotels, airports, chartered airlines and car-hire.

    Topping the destination list was Italy, followed by the Greek islands and then Cyprus. Portugal and Iceland came in fourth and fifth. Turkey found itself in fifth place on the list of 'least favourite' destinations, which was headed by Bulgaria, Russia, Spain and Poland.

    But there was bad news for Cypriot tycoon Stelios Haji-Ioannou, whose low- cost airline easyJet was ousted from the number one spot as 'Best Low-Cost airline' by its British Airways no-frills rival Go. However, his easyRentacar clinched the car-hire top spot for the first time.

    The survey was carried out before the September 11 terrorist attack in the US, which has devastated the global travel industry and affected tourist arrivals to Cyprus for the third quarter of the year.

    Statistics released yesterday by the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry showed that arrivals for September were down 0.2 per cent from the almost 330,000 tourists who came in September last year.

    Total arrivals since the beginning of the year have been up four per cent.

    Before September 11, Cyprus had been headed for a five per cent plus increase in tourism, which would have given it a record three million visitors. Estimates for 2001 now put the number of tourists at 2.7 million, the same figure as last year, with revenue of 1.2 billion.

    Around 50 per cent of the island's tourists come from Britain, accounting for 1.4 million of total visitors. The UK-market contributes 660 million to the total tourism revenue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Taxi owners in angry House demo

    By Melina Demetriou

    TEMPERS flared outside the House of Representatives yesterday morning when police barred around 100 taxi drivers from dumping their cars in front of parliament.

    The taxi service owners had gone to the House to protest at government plans to make it illegal for them to sell their licences to non-relatives and to make all new taxis ivory.

    Police directed all but 10 taxi drivers, who were allowed to park on the street, to nearby roads, but some lost their temper and began to threaten police officers at the scene. Police eventually managed to restore order peacefully.

    The taxi company owners - minus their taxis - eventually gathered outside parliament about 15 minutes later and staged an angry two-hour demonstration, shouting slogans against the government and Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou.

    The protest took place while the House Communications Committee was convening to discuss the bill in question.

    Protestors collared deputies arriving at the House to voice their complaints.

    As Aristos Chrysostomou of DIKO walked in, some demonstrators shouted out: " If you support us DIKO will do very well in the next elections."

    AKEL deputy George Lillikas said his party was on the side of taxi service owners.

    The parties have not officially positioned themselves on the matter yet.

    The protestors complained Neophytou had refused to listen to their side of the story.

    The bill, which has been submitted to committee for discussion, provides that service owners can sell their taxi licences only to immediate family members. It also suggests that all new taxis have an ivory colour.

    Neophytou has defended the ban on licence sales saying, " taxi company owners often sell their licenses for 140,000 each" .

    But the taxi owners argued yesterday that if they were not allowed to sell their licences they would end up with very little money.

    " Everything changed after the September 11 attacks on the US. The tourism industry has suffered losses and so have we of course. We don't have money to feed our families. We sometimes make 8 a day and we have no other pension than the money we get when we sell our taxi licences,"one angry protestor shouted.

    Taxi company owners also opposed the idea of new taxis having an ivory colour, claiming existing vehicles would then be " second class taxis" .

    The government's bill also calls on the Vehicle Licensing Authority to issue a number of new taxi licences, a development company owners fear will create a competitive environment in which they won't be able to survive.

    After the meeting of the Communications Committee, its chairman Nicos Pittokopitis of DIKO proposed a temporary solution to the company owners' problems.

    " I will suggest to the Licensing Authority to issue no more licences until February,"Pittokopitis said. " And until then there will be meetings between the government, parliament and you in order to address these issues."

    Taxi service owners' representative Kypros Andreou welcomed Pittokopitis' proposal.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Waste processing center to replace hospital incinerators

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HEALTH Ministry plans to establish a centre for the environmentally- friendly processing of hospital waste, Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    Savvides admitted before the House Health Committee yesterday that hospital incinerators polluted the environment.

    " Incinerators produce emissions harmless to health but damaging for the environment,"the minister said.

    Savvides noted that private clinics also used state hospital incinerators because they could not get rid of their waste otherwise.

    The minister told the committee the government indented to buy services from the private sector to establish a centre to process hospital waste without damaging the environment.

    " This method of handling hospital waste respects the environment and is already applied in some European countries,"Savvides said.

    " We have contacted some centres abroad which use such methods and we plan to buy services from them,"he added.

    The minister explained that a national centre of this kind would collect and processes waste hospitals and clinics across the country.

    He noted that the process mainly involved destruction of waste and in some cases recycling, " which is now very much in fashion" .

    It would cost the ministry a few million pounds to establish such a centre, Savvides said after the meeting, but declined to say what it would cost to run it.

    Savvides noted the ministry would keep its current incinerators, even when the processing centre was up and running, " in case we ever need them" .

    Meanwhile, the House Health Committee asked Savvides to produce a report outlining all the kinds of environmental damage caused by his departments and to submit it to the committee.

    Apart from hospital waste and incinerators' emissions, deputies also cited radiation produced by machines used for radiotherapy.

    The Committee said all ministers would be requested to come up with such reports.

    " Ministers should order internal studies to identify causes of environmental damage and then suggest ways of eliminating it,"committee chairman George Lillikas of AKEL said.

    " This is a great opportunity for me to do some self-evaluation and think of how best I can address these issues,"Savvides conceded.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Matsakis slams bombing of civilians

    DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis yesterday condemned the US and British bombing campaign in Afghanistan for killing innocent civilians and children.

    His statement joins a rising tide of criticism against the military strikes and their growing list of civilian casualties.

    Matsakis yesterday called on Washington and London to stop bombing non- military targets and using weapons of high indiscriminate killing potential.

    " There is no justification and no excuse for taking life or causing serious injury to even a single child; be it American, British, Afghan or any other nationality,"his statement read.

    The deputy faxed a copy of his statement to the press, to the President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, US Ambassador Donald Bandler, British High Commissioner Lyn Parker, EU delegation head Donato Chiarini and the head of the UNHCR in Cyprus Christina Folkelius.

    He called for the urgent and adequate provision of food, medicines, medical care and shelter.

    " As a doctor, I cannot just sit back and watch on television the daily reports of killings of innocent Afghan civilians,"Matsakis wrote.

    His colleague DISY deputy and doctor Eleni Theoharous is currently working as a doctor in northern Afghanistan, dispensing emergency medical aid and performing urgent operations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Kyprianou recovering from lung infection

    FORMER President Spyros Kyprianou is being treated for a lung infection and was out of danger yesterday, his doctor Nicos Katodritis said.

    Kyprianou was admitted to the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre on Monday suffering from a high fever and dehydration.

    The former House President and DIKO leader, who was diagnosed with pelvic cancer in June, has been put on medication to treat a " non-serious lung infection,"Dr Katodritis said.

    Kyprianou's doctor said the veteran politician was doing much better yesterday and said that he would overcome the infection.

    Kyprianou, 68, was last June diagnosed as suffering from malignant bone- cancer of the pelvis. His cancer is being treated with radiotherapy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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