By Angelos Anastasiou
THE 633 former Bank of Cyprus (BoC) employees who accepted voluntary redundancy in August gathered outside the bank’s headquarters yesterday to protest against the failure to release their provident fund compensation.
The representative committee of the BoC’s former employees demand the immediate release of the money, which has fallen under the troika-imposed restructuring of the bank.
The committee’s head, Savvas Philippou, said the provident fund money was “tied up – about one-half is in term deposits that will mature in two years, and the other half in some obscure share-payment scheme that no one seems to know anything about”.
In a letter dated December 6 to the bank’s chairman Christis Hasapis, the committee laid out the financial hardships its members were facing and asked for his help in the speedy settlement of the matter, which they described as a “blatant injustice” in light of the fact that former Laiki staff had already received their provident fund payments in cash.
“Employees made redundant by the same employer on the same day and under the same voluntary redundancy plan, are being treated unequally,” said the letter.
Philippou said that following receipt of the letter, the bank said it would review the issue and respond within three days.
“However 21 days later we have heard nothing,” he said.
“The only communication we have had since was a call from Mr Hasapis last night, during which he asked us to cancel our demonstration because we would be tarnishing the bank’s image if we went ahead with it.”
During the same phone call, Hasapis is said to have agreed to look into the matter, not making any promises. “I cannot commit on a response, nor can I set time-frames for the resolution of the issue,” he was quoted as saying.
The angry former employees who had gathered outside the bank’s headquarters requested a meeting with the chairman or another bank official to discuss the matter but were told no one was.
Addressing those in attendance, Philippou called for a move to the adjacent Central Bank of Cyprus building as “the Central Bank is not without its share of fault in this injustice”. They pledged to escalate measures if the issue was not swiftly dealt with.
“That will leave only ETYK” – the bank employees’ union – “which remains silent on this matter, for us to pay a visit to,” Philippou concluded, suggesting that the union would be asked to position itself on the charge of having abandoned its former members.
Asked to comment, ETYK claims to have “taken all appropriate measures with regard to this issue”.
The 633 former BoC employees had protested in October to House President Yiannakis Omirou, who pledged his support to their cause and publicly called for the finance minister to take prompt action.