The mistake of doctors’ and teachers’ unions was that instead of first demanding a probe into the circumstances of the death of the 10-year-old schoolboy, they criticised the competent ministers for doing so, President Nicos Anastasiades has said.
In an interview published in Sunday’s Phileleftheros, Anastasiades said that his ministers had his full backing, regarding the way they handled the case adding that “lines had been crossed”.
He was referring to the angry reaction by teaching and government doctor unions to the investigations ordered by the health and education ministers after the death of Stavros Giorgallis, who had fallen and hit his head while playing basketball at his school. The boy was taken to the Larnaca hospital, but was sent home after being examined by doctors at the A&E department. He returned to the hospital a few hours later and passed away on the operating table.
Government doctors’ union Pasyki had staged a two-hour work stoppage in protest against the arrest of two of their colleagues, in connection with the case, and announced they would have no communication with the permanent secretary of the health ministry, Christina Yiannaki, because of the way she handled the probe. Primary teachers’ union Poed announced it would not talk to Education Minister, Costas Hambiaouris, after he stopped union representatives visiting the school where the accident had taken place, while teachers were being questioned.
“I feel that the mistake of the trade unions was that instead of demanding first an investigation to see what exactly had happened, and if there was negligence or any other violation, they made sure to criticise in every way the ministers that did order a probe,” Anastasiades said.
The president wondered if the state could turn a blind eye and cover up for anyone found to be at fault. “Who would answer to the mother of that child?” he asked.
Both unions said earlier in the week they would put differences aside for the sake of dialogue. Anastasiades said the government had now entered a dialogue with the unions to agree measures to tackle problems and weaknesses.
Regarding the Cyprus Cooperative Bank (CCB), which the government has put up for sale, Anastasiades said his personal intervention was aimed at ensuring that nobody took advantage of the need for an agreement and engaged in speculation at the expense of the bank, the state or the public.
Anastasiades also pointed out that “the problems of the CCB as regards capital needs, did not arise from loans given during our own administration” and that “the problems stem from an age-old situation where there was a massive lending without real and solid banking criteria.” This was a response to criticism of the government, which was in control of the state-owned CCB for the last five years and blamed for the current problems.
He also said that he will continue his consultations with the parliamentary parties with a view to getting their support for his reform programme. Public service reform, local government reform, the introduction of e-Government and reform of the judiciary are among the government’s policy targets.