WE ARE well-acquainted with the arrogance and audacious sense of entitlement of PASYDY boss Glafcos Hadjipetrou. He demonstrated these qualities during his fiery speech at the 52nd annual conference of his union on Monday when he attacked the media, academics, employers’ groups, economists, state officials and others, “all of whom were dependent on the banks,” for targeting the public sector and blaming the economic crisis on it. This persecution of public employees was outrageous, as it was the banking sector that had caused the economic disaster, said Hadjipetrou.
His members had suffered the brunt of the crisis as they saw their earnings reduced by 30 per cent. The pay cuts imposed on public employees were less than half this, but Hadjipetrou also calculated the annual wage increments in the region of four per cent his privileged members would have received, regardless of their performance and productivity, as well as the cost of living allowance. He also claimed that the pensions of retired public employees had also fallen by 30 per cent. What he failed to mention was that wages in the public sector were, on average, about two-and-a-half times higher than those paid by the private sector as were the pensions received by his members.
Nobody would have been surprised by Hadjipetrou’s outburst and his scurrilous attempt to portray his super-privileged, overpaid and underworked members as the most downtrodden workers in Cyprus. It takes a lot of nerve for the leader of the most privileged group of workers to stand up in public and make such claims when there are close to 100,000 unemployed and thousands of families are depending on food banks. Then again the PASYDY leadership has always behaved as if it owns the country and that the privileges of its members could never be touched.
This was evident in the final decision of the conference, which complained about the “unconstitutional” pay and pension cuts and underlined its resolve “not to accept any more blood-letting of their vital rights and interests.” It also applauded the union’s decision to file appeals against the pay cuts at the Supreme Court on the grounds that these were unconstitutional. Given how the law works in Cyprus the possibility of PASYDY winning its appeal could not be ruled out and the taxpayer would be faced with a bill of hundreds of millions of euro. Perhaps then, the state would cut all welfare payments to the needy in order to reimburse Hadjipetrou’s persecuted members.