By Angelos Anastasiou
Members of the police anti-riot squad MMAD were deployed at the Bank of Cyprus headquarters on Monday after a protest staged by employees of Aqua Sol, a hotel and resort company, threatened to get out of hand.
The group gathered around 10 am, protesting the fact that the hotel has been placed under administration by the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and rumours had them slated for firing.
Last week, Aqua Sol and Marismare’s employees announced their decision to stage the protest “outside the Bank of Cyprus headquarters, Deloitte auditing house, and the labour and social insurance ministry.”
“The employees’ decision was made as a result of their grave concern and uncertainty over their employment, though they continue to work conscientiously for the good of the tourist industry and the economy at large,” a joint statement by PEO and SEK employee unions said.
“They are unaware of when their wages in arrears might be paid to them, including the wages for September, October, November, as well as their 13th and 14th salaries for both 2013 and 2014,” it added.
Aqua Sol, employer to some 700 people, was placed under receivership in October by the Bank of Cyprus, and last month its employees had again taken to the streets demanding their wages for the last four months.
Following the protest outside the Bank of Cyprus headquarters, Aqua Sol’s employees moved outside Deloitte’s offices.
“The reason we have moved the protest outside Deloitte’s offices is that the Bank of Cyprus advised us that, although they have commissioned Deloitte as receivers, the responsibility for unpaid wages lies with Deloitte,” PEO spokesman Costas Demetriou said.
According to Demetriou, when Aqua Sol was in talks with the Bank of Cyprus to restructure its loan obligations, the lender appointed Deloitte to run a viability check on the company.
“The check was carried out and the findings were that the company is viable and can repay its loans,” Demetriou said.
“After that, the Bank of Cyprus advised Aqua Sol to create a new company and lease the hotels to it and divert the rent payments to the bank to service the loans.”
But instead, he claimed, the Bank of Cyprus turned around and appointed Deloitte as receivers.
“Deloitte blocked the company’s accounts and decreed that no payments be made, resulting in the closure of Callisto hotel in Ayia Napa, which had been busy all year round since it opened, 14 years ago,” said Demetriou.
According to the PEO spokesman, closing the Callisto left 100 individuals unemployed.
“We expect a positive stance from the receiver – to release funds so that employees can be paid their dues,” Demetriou added.
The protesters then headed to the labour ministry, holding banners asking for the “timely payment of their wages.”