Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Don’t praise CyTA retirement scheme, ask what it means

By Loucas Charalambous

LAST MONDAY the top brass of CyTA appeared before the House finance committee and explained its scheme for the voluntary retirement of staff. As was reported, the legislature was not only satisfied with the explanations given, but also praised the quick drafting of the plan.

Committee president Nicholas Papadopoulos expressed his satisfaction regarding the meeting and added that “irrespective of the privatisations, the organisations must go ahead with restructuring and becoming more productive.”

According to the three-year plan (2013-2015) it is estimated that 600 to 700 would leave CyTA the net financial benefit of which would be €263.5m, which is about €87m per year. The House committee was told that the total cost for the implementation of the plan would be €103m.

We should note here that in his message, published in CyTA’s annual report for 2012, then chairman Stathis Kittis mentioned that during that year the authority implemented a policy that cut its work force by 300 people. So if we add these to the 700 that will go now we can see that CyTA had about a thousand more workers than it needed.

The accounts for 2012 showed that CyTA made a net profit of €38.2m. The total labour cost (salaries, pensions, redundancy compensation) for that year was €159m. Of course the cost of the 900 to 1,000 redundant workers is paid by its customers who will now be called to pay the €103m to those that will leave voluntarily.

It should be borne in mind that this early retirement scheme has been pursued after intense pressure by the unions which have said the departure of employees would “reduce the labour cost and the organisation would become more productive”.

In other words, the union bosses, who have been shouting against privatisation because “profit-making” organisations that are public wealth would be sold off, are admitting that CyTA is the most corrupt of the semi-governmental kingdoms. A corrupt organisation, worse than Cyprus Airways, at which almost half the workers were overpaid, layabouts that were hired so they could enjoy the ultra-attractive wages, the hefty retirement bonus, the free (until recently) princely pensions.

And all this at the expense of its customers who pick up the bill for additional labour cost of about €87m every year that they will now be spared thanks to the costly, voluntary redundancy scheme. But why should its customers pay? Those who hired them should pay. The audacity of the CyTA union bosses is quite astonishing, given that despite all this they are still rabidly opposed to privatisation, in order to preserve their super-privileges.

But even greater is the audacity of the politicians who are the real culprits behind what has been happening at SGOs. The top brass and union representatives of CyTA went before the deputies of the House finance committee and told them that 300 workers had left while another 600 to 700 would leave soon because they were surplus to requirements and nobody thought this was worth talking mentioning.

No deputy dared to point out the following to CyTA’s representatives: You came here to tell us that almost half the employees are well-paid layabouts and should leave and at the same time you are beating your breast about maintaining this stable, because it is “public wealth”. And you feel no shame?

No deputy felt the need to ask this simple thing. On the contrary, all, including Papadopoulos, who poses as the prosecutor of corruption while wanting to maintain the filthy SGO kingdoms in order to do favours for his supporters, found a reason to congratulate CyTA’s representatives.

This answers the question why not a single deputy bothered to point out the provocative behaviour of the union bosses. How could they? After all, CyTA and the other SGO kingdoms are the creation of the politicians.

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