IT WAS extremely infuriating hearing President Anastasiades praising the alleged sacrifices made by public employees as well as their super-efforts to restrict state expenditure. Speaking at PASYDY’s 51st annual conference last Friday, the president, referring to the last 12 months, said “we all paid a very high price but more than anyone, you, the workers of the public sector.”
Apart from showing incredible insensitivity to the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs, his remark was also factually incorrect. Very many workers in the private sector that still have a job suffered bigger cuts, on lower salaries, than the pampered public employees. Were Anastasiades and his speech-writers not aware of this detail? Nor did they consider the iron-clad job security which is enjoyed by public employees and unheard of in the private sector.
The president was crudely pandering to his audience last Friday, exactly as he had done at last year’s PASYDY conference, completely oblivious to the suffering and misery of the increasing number of people who rely on charities to feed their families. Are we to assume the people, who are struggling, without a wage, pension or state assistance, paid a lower price for what happened in the last 12 months than overpaid public employees?
It is this appalling pandering to PASYDY and the other public sector unions by all our politicians that contributed to the state’s bankruptcy. Even when the signs of collapse were evident, and cuts to the public sector payroll would have prevented it, the supposedly responsible leadership of PASYDY opposed them, on the grounds that workers’ ‘conquests’ should have been protected.
The public employees’ privileges and extortionate pay were one of the main reasons the state needed €10 billion in financial assistance from international lenders. And yet they suffered the least. Instead of the state covering its deficits by bigger cuts to public pay-roll, it imposed new taxes on everyone, reducing the disposable income of the lowest-paid and increasing the costs of struggling businesses.
But we have not heard president praising us, the second-class citizens of his country, for the very high price we have had to pay to safeguard the privileges enjoyed by the workers of the broader public sector. Anastasiades, like the rest of our politicians, only cares about keeping the public sector aristocrats happy, as if they are the only people living in the country. The country’s second-class citizens are of no interest to our politicians, as long as we carry on picking up the public sector tab, without protest.