By Angelos Anastasiou
PRESS reports of behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring last week by deputies, in order to benefit senior police officers by passing a law extending their retirement age by a year to 63, were roundly refuted by DISY leader Averof Neophytou on Tuesday.
Last Friday, daily Politis ran a story criticising deputies for passing a bill in Thursday’s plenum, which extended the retirement age for senior police officers to 63, claiming it would only impact nine officers, one of whom was set to retire during this year and had already been on retirement leave. The bill was passed by DISY and DIKO’s votes, as well as those of EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris and independent deputy Zacharias Koulias.
Speaking at a news conference, Neophytou said that despite the party’s practice of not commenting on media analyses and commentaries, DISY’s stance in Thursday’s plenum was consistent with its traditional views.
“We fully respect [the media’s] work, and the more critical they are of us, the more we are forced to improve,” Neophytou said.
“Last Thursday, DISY voted in favour of the retirement age for senior police officers. I want to be clear – we never tied our vote to other bills currently pending in the House.”
The ruling party, Neophytou said, has been unequivocally in favour of extending the retirement age for years, having the track record of votes in parliament to prove it.
“Extending the retirement age has been a socially fair measure, because I am fully aware that pensioners are financially supported by newer generations,” he argued.
“The lower the retirement age, the more pensioners need to be paid their monthly pensions, and for a longer time – and ultimately, the heavier the load newer generations are burdened with.”
But DISY’s leader was quick to clarify that his position was not absolute, but the result of an earlier vote extending civil servants’ retirement age to 65, which was not applicable to the police force.
“This should not be taken to mean that we should work till we are 100, but I don’t think that since we have decided that the retirement age to 65, there should be exemptions for police officers, military men, or teachers,” he said.
“If we should be looking at exemptions, these should focus on those who are employed in particularly tough jobs. Builders and ironsmiths have had their retirement age at 65 for decades, and that’s where exemptions could perhaps be justified.”