“I will not allow the state to turn into a feud between unions,” President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday night saying his patience was running out.
In strongly worded statements to the press on the sidelines of the business ethics awards organised by the chamber of commerce, Anastasiades said everyone should come to the realisation that there is a constitution and laws which need to be respected.
“I completely respect trade unions but I will not allow some of them to think they were elected by the people to tyrannise them or to create problems.”
He was asked to comment on the ongoing developments on health, education and crime which have become a battleground between the state and the unions, in the case of the first two areas.
“I refuse to hear what some unionists say on education. We have thousands of students in primary schools, high schools, everywhere. A tragic accident happened. Instead of focusing our attention on what measures we could use to avoid a repeat incident, we’re trying to create a huge issue that there is no safety in schools,” Anastasiades said.
He was referring to the death of 10-year-old Stavros Giorgallis, who died after falling over in school and after doctors at Larnaca general hospital apparently failed to recognise injuries to his head.
Two doctors were arrested and probes were ordered for the school, the teacher on duty and doctors.
Primary school teachers’ union Poed had earlier in the day said teachers’ evaluations should not be discussed until health and safety in school premises was resolved.
Asked if he believed trade unionists were exaggerating, Anastasiades said “on one hand they want to solve the case and on the other hand, unionists are there while the disciplinary investigations and statements are being taken.”
“On the one hand, we have doctors saying they respect the investigation which is going to happen and on the other hand, they try to influence the investigations either through their unacceptable two hour strike or through their new announcement.”
The latest reveal came from state doctors’ union Pasyki who asked the health minister to ensure his ministry’s permanent secretary, Christina Yiannaki, was banned from consulting with them on any matter.
The reason for the ban, the union said, is the way she handled the probe into the boy’s death which led to the arrest of the two doctors.
Anastasiades said “when Mrs Yiannaki runs for a post, then those that think they rule the place don’t have to vote for her.
“I have a lot of patience but sometimes patience runs out,” the president stipulated.
Commenting on organised crime, for which the police force have been accused of inaction, Anastasiades said the aim is to clamp down on crime in every way however “let’s not forget that crime has always existed”.
“I’m not trying to minimise the seriousness of the situation. What I am saying, in regards to what some are trying to present as a very tragic situation that we are in, is a reminder that in the 1960s and much later than that there were organised crimes,” he said.
“I don’t need to refer to names and examples for what happened.”