Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

SGO princes squander, not preserve public wealth

By Loucas Charalambous

WHAT creates the worst impression regarding the privatisations of the semi-governmental organisations (SGOs) is the audacity of the union bosses. In the cases of CyTA and the EAC this audacity knows no limits.

Listening to their nonsense and idiotic arguments, it is easy to understand why so much dirt has accumulated in these organisations, which has been exposed by the many scandals that have surfaced recently, culminating in the Dromolaxia land scam.

Union bosses appear on television and radio shows every day, arrogantly and provocatively trying to impose on the government their diktats. In effect they are demanding that they run the state; they are the most unreasonable people on the planet. EAC and CyTA are the only companies in the world that have to be run by their workers rather than their owner.

“CyTA belongs to its people,” said a ludicrous placard held during Monday’s demonstration outside the presidential palace. And the “people” are its well-paid pampered employees who, through continuous resort to blackmail (which they called workers’ struggles) and the support of our political demagogues, had managed to secure outrageous super-privileges which they call “conquests”.

Another placard said: “You cannot sell something that you do not own.” In other words CyTA, which our political demagogues describe as “public wealth”, is not public at all. It does not belong to the state, they claim. It is the property of its workers. Truly, their audacity has no limits.

We should also answer the question, from where do the ‘princes’ of CyTA find this audacity? It has been given to them by our politicians who show no scruples when they have to defend the ‘fiefdoms’ they have created in the SGOs. Above everything, for them is the party interest – votes. They think that by backing all the unions’ outrageous demands they will win votes.

Special mention should be given to the AKEL leadership whose behaviour on the matter is the most provocative. While it is fooling the hapless members of its union Peo that it is fighting to improve their standard of living, it fully backs the provocative demands of the ‘princes’ who are funded by the people it is taking for a ride – the minimum wage earners and non-privileged workers of the private sector.

I have always wondered how it is possible that the ordinary members of Peo – labourers, low-earners, people on low pensions – do not rebel seeing the leaderships of their party and union taking a leading role in safeguarding the super-privileges of state and SGO employees. Such people enjoy extortionate salaries as well as pensions and retirement bonuses they contribute nothing to, not to mention the black holes created in their pension funds by corruption and mismanagement.

All these are paid for by the non-privileged workers and taxpayers. Only last month the government sent a bill to the legislature for €20.9 million to pay into the CyTA pension fund. This was the first instalment aimed at covering the fund’s huge deficit, estimated at €240 million. And the people picking up the bill say nothing.

However, the most ludicrous of everything we heard was AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou’s pledge that when his party comes to power again, either on its own or as part of a coalition, it would cancel the privatisations. He did not say where he would find the billions needed to pay the new owners of these organisations.

Of course it is not just the AKEL leadership that is guilty of this irresponsible populism. With the notable exception of DISY and its leader Averof Neophytou, who deserves credit for his brave position on the issue, all the populist political demagogues have backed the audacious demands of the pampered princes. They are the cheerleaders of the vile antics of the SGO union bosses.

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