THE UNION of Cypriot Pensioners (Ekysy) will gather outside the House of Representatives next Friday to demand that their pensions be restored to the pre-cuts levels. Pension payments had been cut during the bailout, even though it must said that these had been significantly increased during the first years of the Christofias presidency which was spending the taxpayer’s money with typically reckless socialist generosity.
It is not clear by how much pensions increased during that time of profligacy, but it was the time when even the super-affluent were receiving bonus pensions at Christmas and Easter. Ekysy is now claiming that the lowest pensions had been cut by more than 30 per cent, drastically lowering the standard of living of the least well off. Whether this is correct or a white lie used for impact, is unclear although it seems implausible that the lowest pensions suffered such big cuts.
In an announcement issued on Tuesday Ekysy said it was “very provocative” of the government to refuse to return pensions to pre-cuts levels, “at a time when its representatives are celebrating that the economy is doing well.” The union could also have mentioned the fact all wages in the public sector were not only restored to pre-cuts levels but were also raised in January. Public finances were in such good shape that government also decided to give whopping rises to nurses and doctors at state hospitals.
We have stressed the need to reform the pension system on countless occasions in the past, but we know that nothing will be done because the beneficiaries of the existing unfair system – public sector workers, SGO employees and politicians – would lose out. At present we have retired public employees being paid pensions, to which they had contributed nothing during their working life, of two to three thousand euro a month and workers who paid part of their monthly wage, in addition to their employer’s contribution, and receive a pension €600. We have the taxpayer paying more than €10 million into the CyBC pension fund ever year so the corporation’s retiree could carry on receiving pensions that are higher than the average private sector wage. Deputies, who served two terms in parliament, while also holding down other jobs, are paid huge pensions, towards which they contributed nothing.
Unless the state pension system is reformed and placed on a rational and more equitable basis there will always be pensioners unable to make ends meet and others living in the lap of luxury.