By Angelos Anastasiou
CIVIL servants’ union PASYDY is demanding that some 2,500 employees occupying vacancies on term contracts be made permanent, it was reported yesterday.
Citing unnamed sources, daily Phileleftheros said this category comprises mostly nurses in government hospitals, but also contracted staff in other government departments, mainly secretarial.
The decision to make term contractors permanent was taken by the union’s Central Committee and ratified by the General Council on Tuesday.
At the same time, PASYDY plans to raise a secondary demand, relating to the pension rights of employees.
Specifically, the union wants to reinstate the rights to a professional pension and a lump-sum retirement bonus for employees deemed eligible.
In the coming days, the paper reported, PASYDY’s head Glafcos Hadjipetrou will send a letter to the chairman of the Joint Personnel Committee, and permanent undersecretary of the Finance ministry, Christos Patsalides, raising both issues and requesting the start of consultations as soon as possible.
Head of nurses’ union Prodromos Argyrides told the Cyprus Mail that the issue has arisen due to the increased number of civil servants leaving the public sector for fear of losing some of their entitlements.
“Just like the recent talk of taxing civil servants’ lump-sum bonus”, he said.
“Anyone in their shoes would have done the same”, he said of civil servants opting for early retirement.
Argyrides said there are hospital departments staffed in half by contract employees, which means that non-permanent staff, who may be let go and replaced by others, are being entrusted with medical equipment worth millions.
“That is, not to mention patients’ lives”, he said. “This situation breeds risk and dysfunction. The government must unfreeze the necessary positions”.
He added that the proposals have already reached the Finance ministry, but no response has yet been issued.
The nurses’ union has also taken these issues to the Health minister, who replied that this was a matter for the Finance ministry.
“We will allow a reasonable time period for the government to study the proposals, and then we’ll make our own decisions”, Argyrides said.
Meanwhile, a public row between PASYDY boss Glafcos Hadjipetrou and the head of the newly-created rival offshoot – the Independent Union of Civil Servants – Yiorgos Horatas broke out on state radio yesterday morning.
“Our philosophy is that we need to support the revival of public service, because only through the revival of this spirit can Cyprus have a future”, Horatas said.
“I don’t know how receptive PASYDY is to this notion. So far, its stance has been ‘we don’t negotiate, we don’t accept anything’.”
The rogue unionist claimed the upper layers of PASYDY have been abusing their power, naming Hadjipetrou as one.
“The reasons we had distanced ourselves from PASYDY, to the point where some of us were expelled, were real: for instance, in terms of the way they chose to handle monthly membership fees. We had discovered that members of PASYDY’s leadership were being paid a second salary from the union, in addition to their civil servant salary”, he said.
“Also, Mr Hadjipetrou’s son-in-law was hired by the union’s retirement home as financial director. PASYDY’s deputy head was also hired as director at the retirement home.”
Hadjipetrou denied the accusations, claiming they were simply the result of the expelled PASYDY members’ disgruntlement.
“In every session at the union they raised the issue of suspending or reducing membership fees, reducing the salaries of the union’s employees and leadership”, said Hadjipetrou.
“They are saying that some are getting a second salary, because some in the union receive an allowance to cover their expenses. We have told them repeatedly that such accusations are both inappropriate and in violation of the union’s policy. They did not comply.”
With regard to their expulsion from the union, Hadjipetrou said it was not decided vindictively but was simply a result of their own behaviour.
“A team of 23 voted on their expulsion, 21 in favour and two abstained”, he claimed. “The General Council also voted. Of 70 members present, 63 voted in favour of their expulsion, one in their favour and six abstained.”
He also defended the retirement home hirings, citing unanimity.
“The retirement home hiring was decided unanimously, including their own vote”, he said of his former fellow unionists.