By Constantinos Psillides
HOUSE president Yiannakis Omirou has assured former Cyprus Airways (CY) staff that the parliament will do everything within its power to force the government to provide full compensation and find out who is to blame for shutting down the airline.
“Cyprus cannot depend on foreign crutches when it comes to accessibility,” Omirou said after a meeting with CY union leaders.
Cyprus Airways was grounded last Friday, after the EU Commission ordered that the company return €65m it received in state aid, rendering it unviable. Around 560 staff found themselves out of a job overnight, which led to protests against the government. The former staff claim that the government wanted to shut down CY from the beginning and that it didn’t do everything in it’s power to convince the Commission not to rule against the company.
CY staff protested outside the House of Representatives for the third day, having previously protested outside the Finance ministry and the presidential palace.
They carried placards saying “I don’t forget” over a CY logo, “We want employment” and “Where’s the national carrier?”
Police barricaded the area fearing that scuffles would erupt. The workers laid the shirt of the pilot who flew CY’s last flight home to Larnaca over the barricade and closed off a road adjacent to the House of Representatives for about 30 minutes.
Union leaders handed Omirou a resolution with the workers’ demands where they repeated their request that the government employ CY staff in the public sector.
Finance minister Harris Georgiades has already dismissed this demand, pointing out on Tuesday that it would be grossly unfair for other workers who lost their jobs and unemployed people waiting for a chance to work.
President Nicos Anastasiades pledged on Wednesday that the staff would be compensated in full, including their provident fund which had a deficit of €14m that will be covered by the state.
On Wednesday, the cabinet gave the green light to the Finance ministry to proceed with acquiring the services of legal and financial advisors, who will be tasked with coming up with an action plan to establish a new airline, working along with the private sector.
Union representatives from semi-governmental organisations from CyTA, EAC, Ports’ Authority and the Cyprus Sports Association were also present at the protests.
Marios Christodoulou, former cabin staff for 23 years, told the Cyprus News Agency that the government erased the company overnight and is trying to shift the blame on the workers.
Cabin crew department head Panikos Panayi stated that cabin crew over the age of 40 will not be able to find a job anywhere else.