Scores of pensioners staged a protest Thursday morning in the centre of Nicosia demanding that their benefits that have been slashed by more than 30 per cent are restored to pre-haircut levels.
The event, organised by the Akel affiliated Cypriot Pensioners Association Ekysy took place on Ledra Street in the centre of the capital, to mark UN International Day of Older Persons, celebrated on October 1.
Scores of pensioners marched along the commercial street with placards saying among others “Respect to the old age”, “Pensioners die while waiting to undergo surgery”, and “Pensioners are entitled to respectable living standards”.
“Despite the daily hardships they endure, they’re burdened in many cases health condition, the frustration they feel by the treatment they receive from the state, they offer their presence en masse and demand termination of the mockery against them,” Ekysy said in an announcement.
Ekysy’s general secretary, Costas Skarparis, said that the event aimed at highlighting the problems seniors face.
“Our demands are first of all respect to seniors and the restoration of our rights to the level before the cutbacks which began in 2013 and continue until today,” Skarparis said.
The standard of living particularly of low-income pensioners, he said, dropped more than 30 per cent while the public health sector has been significantly affected due to the fact the National Health Scheme has not been implemented yet. As a result, state hospitals cannot serve patients any more, he said.
In addition, Skarparis said, due to new criteria, the state aid given to pensioners who pay residency in old people’s homes has been reduced, creating serious problems as many seniors face being kicked out of retirement homes.
He added that the same was true as regards home care. “The government has arbitrarily changed the criteria for the assessment of needs which resulted in reduced benefits,” Skarparis said.
Many pensioners, he said, are in a “tragic situation due to the austerity measures”.