Buoyed by politicians’ promises, bank workers union Etyk are planning a march for February 1 – between the first and second rounds of the election – in a bid to milk as many concessions as possible from the government and incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades.
At the demonstration – likely to be held outside the presidential palace – the union will again demand full restitution for provident funds that were seized (along with depositors’ savings) in the March 2013 banking meltdown.
It’s understood that some 6,000 members – employees of Bank of Cyprus and now-defunct Laiki – were affected by the provident fund haircut.
In recent weeks the union has received promises galore from four of the five main (party-backed) presidential candidates, with only Anastasiades holding out.
This is despite the fact the current administration has already provided partial compensation to provident funds that took a hit.
In December, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades announced an additional €20m to compensate provident funds for their losses on top of the €300m made available in 2013 and €168m pledged in July of 2017.
In 2016, Anastasiades had pledged to cover 75 per cent of the funds’ losses. The scheme announced in July 2017 provided for compensation of up to 75 per cent of the members’ losses and included a €100,000 cap per person to avoid treating beneficiaries better than depositors.
Etyk want 100 per cent of their lost savings back.
It appears the union is able to dangle their vote to the highest bidder, having got pledges from Nicholas Papadopoulos, Stavros Malas, Giorgos Lillikas and Christou Christou – all vying for Etyk’s support.
Diko candidate Papadopoulos in particular has characterised full restitution of provident funds as “an ethical issue.”
Papadopoulos claims the government tricked bank workers. He argues that in the years since the haircut several members of Etyk opted for early retirement, taking on faith the government’s promises of restitution.
For his part, Akel-backed Malas has pledged that, if elected, compensating Etyk will be his priority.
“This is a promise, and our commitment is as solid as a contract. We shall see this through,” he earlier told a gathering of Etyk.