British bases (SBA) police have arrested a member of the military personnel suspected of hitting and injuring two striking workers with his car at the entrance to the Episkopi Garrison.
Quoting SBA police director Giorgos Kiteos, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), said the driver slightly injured two men while exiting the checkpoint where the strikers had gathered.
CNA said the vehicle continued its course but was intercepted shortly afterwards and the driver was arrested for reckless driving.
Union rep Christos Tziapouras said “one man managed to jump out of the way, while the other jumped on the car but the driver kept going for about 10 meters until he fell.”
The two men in their 40’s and 50’s– who have been protesting since Monday – are receiving medical treatment. One is at the Limassol polyclinic and another at the general hospital.
Unions are nearing the end of a five-day warning strike, expected to end on Friday, over a British government decision to impose pay cuts on incomes over €1,500 per month, effective September 1.
The bases said they would be implementing staggered cuts – employees earning less than €1,500 a month, around a quarter of staff, would not be subjected to a wages cut and the door was open for unions to discuss ways to resolve the issue.
For instance, a person earning €3,000 a month would probably see a cut of around 6.5 per cent or €195 a month, in line with public service cuts in the Republic.
Some 1,300 Cypriots are employed at the bases which have been asked by the ministry of defence to make €5.2mln in savings across the board on operations in Cyprus.
Civil servants’ union PASYDY rep Antonis Maratheftis said some of the employees could face a cut of up to 17.5 per cent and employees could lose anywhere from €40,000 to €70,000 from their provident fund which is calculated on the basis of their last salary before retirement.
Bases spokesperson said that throughout the week, the main entrance points have been blocked but school buses and pedestrians have been allowed on and off camp.
Asked to comment on whether there had been any issues such as protestors blocking nurses entrance to the hospital, bases said “there’s lots of talk. Officially, it’s a peaceful protest.”
On Tuesday, unions were sent a letter reiterating the administration’s wish to discuss the matter – something they had expressed before the strike even started – according to the bases, but although “the door is open for trade unions no one is willing to walk through.”
Unions have also sent a letter to the British High Commission in Nicosia where according to Tziapouras they printed material from a bases internal site containing “lies” about the protestor’s behaviour.