Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Coffeeshop: Tales from the Fear Factory

THREE CHEERS for our good friend the Rector of the University of Cyprus (UCy) Constantinos Christofides (CC), for being the only member of our cowardly ruling elite prepared to speak out against the damage caused to our society by reactionary public sector unions, which have become the main obstacles to social and economic progress.

After taking on the disgustingly self-serving teaching unions that are the main reason for falling education standards and making himself a target of the Akel hate squads, he has now turned his attention to the self-serving hospital doctors’ unions.

The unions are objecting to the use of state hospitals as training hospitals for the university’s Medical School, because the doctor-academics that would be put in charge of the different hospital clinics would be earning significantly higher salaries than their members.

They held a three-hour work stoppage when the head of the child surgery clinic Dr Zacharias Zachariou went in for work two weeks ago but left and never returned after that (he resigned a few days later). The idea of the training hospital was put on hold until the unions, which have great expertise in setting up medical schools, decided how it would operate.

Rector CC, meanwhile wrote an article in Phil last weekend slamming the ‘conservative’ reasoning of unions which, in some cases, did not serve the collective interest. He also wrote: “The claim, ‘whatever is good for General Motors is good for America,’ does not apply and neither does ‘whatever is good for unions is good for society’.”

It is the first time a leading member of our ruling elite dared to state the bleeding obvious.


HE ALSO had a dig at the issue of pay, by far the most important one for the unions, which have always made sure that mediocrity and even incompetence is well-rewarded at state hospitals by prohibiting a reliable evaluation system – even the worst doctors get top marks.

CC also challenged the union reasoning that training hospitals would create doctors of different levels (higher pay), saying different levels were a necessity when there were multiple and differing needs. He had thus challenged another union dogma – equal pay regardless of skills and ability.

Speaking on a radio show, he was blunt about this, saying that of course the doctors of the Medical School, who had better qualifications, broader experience and superior skills, should receive higher wages, shocking the doctors’ union boss that was also on the show.

The latter, was outraged by the idea that a doctor who studied at top universities, was highly-qualified and had academic credentials should be paid more than a doctor that graduated from the Soviet Union’s third-rate, Patrice Lumumba university, attended by students sent there by communist parties of third world countries.

The head of Pasyki, the state hospital doctors’ union, Dr Soteris Koumas is a graduate of the Lumumba, which may explain his defence of the communist ideal of equal pay for all as well as his communist belief that doctors own the hospitals and should be consulted before any decision is taken.


BEFORE the council of ministers took the decision on UCy, there had been negotiations between the health ministry and the medical school of the University of Nicosia about the possibility of using state hospitals for training its students.

Representing the private university was a former leader of Pasyki, Dr Stavros Stavrou. Had a deal been struck by Dr Stavrou and the ministry, would his comrades at Pasyki have made a fuss or welcomed the agreement? This is now an academic question.


AS ALWAYS, in our consensus-mad country, a compromise that will keep the doctors happy was found last week, after a meeting of the reps of UCy, health ministry and two unions. Like any compromise, aimed at keeping everyone happy, it will lead to dysfunctional state hospitals (more dysfunctional than they are now) and incur a higher cost for the taxpayer.

The main idea is monumentally stupid. Apparently, the training hospitals could have two clinics for the same branch of healthcare – one under a doctor of the medical school and one under a hospital doctor. For instance, the Makarios Hospital would have a two child surgery clinics, one run by a hospital doctor and one by UCy medical school doctor. In this way promotion positions for union doctors would remain the same.

Even more ludicrously, when in the cases where the union agrees that there would be a unitary clinic, a hospital doctor would be in charge while the possibly better-qualified university doctor would always be under the union doctor’s authority. This would ensure that healthcare standards at university hospitals will remain at current, disappointing levels and the advancement prospects of mediocre doctors would be safeguarded.

One issue this insane compromise had not addressed is the following: when the hospital has two orthopaedic clinics would the patient decide which one to go to? If so, everyone would choose the clinic run by the university doctor rather than by a union-protected Lumumba-trained doctor.

And another thing, why has our good friend CC decided to go along with this monumentally stupid, union-inspired arrangement?


STAYING on my favourite subject of union-bashing, I was overjoyed to read that attorney-general Costas Clerides give the opinion that some of the measures being taken by teachers on instructions from their union Poed, such as ignoring education ministry directives, constituted disciplinary offences.

The opinion was given to education minister Costas Kadis who mentioned its existence at a House committee meeting, but avoided making too much of it because he is a bit of chicken when it comes to dealing with teaching unions. That is why he has not had the guts to accuse teachers in public they were violating the law, but merely leaked the AG report to a website.

“Teachers most certainly implement the ministry’s educational directives,” responded Poed in a statement, showing that apart from blackmail it also engages in blatant lying. Three weeks ago, it declared that unless Kadis gave replacement teachers longer contracts, primary teachers would not participate in training programmes and would block the introduction of any new reform at schools – funny way of following ministry directives


NOT SURPRISED to hear labour minister Zeta Emilianidou announce that her ministry would clamp down on employers that exploited their workers. The ministry’s primary concern is undeclared work because this deprives the state of money.

But we have never heard the labour ministry say it would clamp down on public sector unions that routinely blackmail and exploit their employer – the state – at huge cost to the taxpayer. The fact that these unions always get everything they demand costs the economy much more than undeclared work.

May the clampdown on undeclared work and the extortionate fines that would be imposed against offenders is aimed at raising funds to cover the extra teaching jobs created in September after the strike blackmail by teaching unions.


COMRADE Tof managed to justify the three grand a month we are paying him for secretarial services, by writing off congratulatory letters on the occasion of Ochi Day. He wrote four letters, three of which were exactly the same and only the recipient’s name was changed.

One went to the President of the Greek Republic, one to the Prime Minister of the Greek Republic and the third to the Ambassador of Greece. Even though they were exactly the same, all three were reproduced and included in an announcement that was posted on the Tass news agency web-site.

The fourth was slightly different as it was addressed to his comrade, Demetris Koutsoumbas, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece. In this he referred to “monopolistic capital and generally imperialism.”

In all four letters, he referred to the dastardly role played by the duplicitous Brits, who intervened straight after WWII to defeat the communist resistance groups that had fought the Germans. “Unfortunately the huge sacrifices and deprivations suffered by the Greek people were not vindicated as a result of the military intervention of the English imperialists and the civil war that followed,” Tof lamented in his letter.

On this occasion Greeks should have been eternally grateful for the military intervention of the English imperialists as they prevented Greece from falling under the control of the Stalin-backed communists after the war, and becoming another Albania. Contrary to the views of the Dr of History, Greece was saved by the English imperialists from decades of ruthless, communist totalitarianism.


ON TUESDAY evening the comrade also made a public appearance, in the role of proud father-in-law. He was in the audience for the presentation of a book co-written by his son-in-law Nicos Moudouros about the foreign policy of Turkey, and seized the opportunity to make a long-winded statement about the Cyprob.

Apart from obediently repeating the Russian government line about Turkish guarantees being unacceptable he also spoke on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, claiming they were also against guarantees but were afraid to say so because of the dictator Erdogan. He also showed his anti-settlement instincts, by saying guarantees should be avoided 100 per cent but expressing doubts over whether prez Nik “has the power and the international stature to persuade the international community to force Turkey to give up the guarantee right.”

There was only one prez with power and international stature, but sadly he did not stand for re-election in 2013.


I WONDER whether Phil’s leading columnist, Aristos Michaelides will run to the defence of comrade Tof, now that he has become the defender of Akelites that are opposed to a settlement. Aristos wrote a scathing article against our establishment’s comments about MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou’s new, anti-settlement stance, but did not refer to it by name, which I think was rather unfair. He just credited it to the Sunday Mail.

But I think if you are going to lash out against someone for being an “empty vessel” that tries to “exterminate through dishing mud,” and creates “factories producing fear”, you should have the decency to name him. Incidentally, how can an empty vessel throw dirt?

The board of our establishment, at its next meeting will discuss the proposal to change its name to ‘The Fear Factory by Empty Vessel.’ And if the proposal is accepted, Phil’s defender of Akelites that have seen the true light will be given full credit.


AUSTRIAN member of the ECB governing council Ewald Nowotny, was in Cyprus on Thursday and told a news conference that our central bank governor Crystal was a highly-respected member of the council. “We are all quiet and listen to her when she speaks,” said Nowotny. Is this because she offers advice on how a central bank governor could sneakily change his or her employment contract in order to maximise earnings?


THE BALL-BUSTER bondholders were back in the news last week, expressing concerns over who would compensate them in the event of a Cyprus settlement. They asked who would be paying them in the event that “we won our legal cases against the state, the federal government or the Greek constituent state?” I suggest when Nik and Mustafa collect money to compensate property owners, they should divert an amount to a special fund for the bondholders, thus also securing their fanatical support for settlement. Having such a noisy bunch of troublemakers on side would be good for the pro-settlement camp.


THE NATIONAL Council meets today at a meeting that will decide whether the inbetweeners would accompany Prez Nik to the talks about territory, security and other issues (including the compensations of the bondholders, I hope) in Mont Pelerin.

Apparently Mustafa has decided he would not take the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-leaders with him, even though he had initially said he would. Probably the hotel rates are too high and Turkey, which will pick up the bill, does not want them around, causing problems.

As for our guys, when Nik said he would take the national council with him, the inbetweeners said they would not go. If today he tells them he does not need them with him in Mont Pelerin, they will all be protesting that they want to go, because their presence is in the national interest. Dealing with the inbetweeners, is always a lose-lose situation for Nik.

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