By Alexia Papakyriacou
PENSIONERS protested yesterday outside the finance ministry against the dwindling pensions they say the government expects them to live on, chanting slogans like “hands off pensions”.
PEO union chief Pambis Kiritsis met in the morning with Finance Minister Harris Georgiades to pass on the pensioners’ gripes which include issues like the changes to free medical care, free public transportation, as well as the cut in the Easter bonus, which used to be given to low-income pensioners.
“They cut free medical care, they bring back property tax, they are taking away Easter bonus, they have done worse than colonizers,” said Menelaos Kountoupis.
One woman suffering leg injuries told the Cyprus Mail: “Look at my legs, how am I going to take care of them when they are taking away our money? We need medicines, doctors, food and now we are unable to pay for half of it.”
Pensioners complained of the injustices they face, getting minimal income, and being unable to meet the financial demands of daily life.
One woman argued that while she receives €400 a month pension after working for 35 years, she knows of one woman who is given the same amount without ever having worked.
She further complained that the new government keeps making cuts, while under the previous administration of Demetris Christofias, they were well looked after.
Another pensioner, seamstress Nitsa Yiangou said: “There is a leak in the house and I’m taking €352 per month. I do not have enough money to fix it and if I do I will not have money even for food.”
Frustrated with the current government due to the situation they are in, Savvas Karseras said: “The current government is unpredictable and we cannot know what will follow next.”
Another woman said: “They want to bring fascism back; young people need to reflect on the situation those now in power have caused.”
After a meeting with the finance minister, head of the Cypriot Pensioners’ Union Kostas Skarparis said: “We told him plainly that pensioners, especially those with incomes below the poverty line cannot stand such measures.”