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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Coffeeshop: Saintly Odysseas cleared in waste probe whitewash

Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides

PUBLIC school teachers have earned the title of ‘most insufferable public parasites’ in their hideous attempts to defend their alleged right to do as little teaching as possible. It is not just the union bosses behaving appallingly, but also the members who are using social media to attack and heap abuse on anyone criticising their well-documented laziness and selfishness.

The arrogance and sense of entitlement of the teaching union bosses, exhibited on a daily basis in the media, has had a positive outcome. It has turned all sections of society against the self-serving teachers who labour under the illusion that the primary objective of public education is to provide them with a piss-easy, undemanding working life. Maximum reward for diminishing effort is the mantra.

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris has been the target of vicious attacks by the teachers, accused of being a liar, a scatter-brain, a cheat etc, because he decided to end the ridiculous practice of reducing teaching periods with years of service and additional responsibilities. After eight years of service teachers have two fewer teaching periods per week, four fewer after 12 and six after 20 years.

If they are in charge of a school play or responsible for the library they also get a discount. The luckiest is surely the teacher who writes the minutes of the monthly staff meeting. This earns a reduction of two teaching periods a week. It is this institutionalised laziness that the horrible Hambiaouris has tried to end and sparked the hysterical reaction of the idle class.


THE MINISTER’S masterstroke was his decision to end the exemption from teaching for the union bosses. In the timetable for the new school year, the teaching union bosses have to teach full-time –no longer will they be paid by the taxpayer to do union work during school hours.

Filios Fylaktou, the head of the primary teachers’ union Poed, took the role of victim, seeking public sympathy when he was talking about this grave injustice on morning radio. He was in shock when the presenter offered none, and suggested he could do his union work in the afternoons as teachers were free in the pm.

He accused the presenter of being disrespectful, before switching to self-pity and telling her to ask his family how much free time he had. “We have no summer, no winter and we take no vacations.” On another radio station, Poed general secretary Haris Haralambous explained what a hard time teachers have. “In public education teachers cannot breathe. They are at the school all day teaching and have no time to see their children.”

Apart from pathetic and lazy, the union bosses must be pretty brainless if they think they will win anyone’s sympathy by claiming they have no time to see their children when their work day finishes at 1pm and they have about five months of paid holidays.


THROUGH this stupidity they have turned everyone against them, including Archbishop Chrys, who expressed shock at the “laziness” of the teachers who “want the easy life and have no interest in the progress of their students”.

The teachers’ response to Chrys’ “rabid attack” and “derogatory comments” was to organise a petition demanding that Saint Chrysostomos day was no longer marked as a school holiday. More than 2,000 people signed the electronic petition. Of course, the archbishop’s name day should never have been a school holiday, but teachers never complained about it until now because it was a rare opportunity to see their children who they never saw otherwise.

Another union boss pissed off the parents’ associations, presumably because they had failed to publicly support the teachers’ right to do as little teaching as possible. He accused them of “acting like the errand boys of the minister of education”. They have completely lost the plot, but the most worrying thing is that these petty-minded, cry-babies of limited intelligence are responsible for children’s education. It explains a lot.


SENSING that Hambiaouris is a tough customer and has no intention of giving in to them, the unions are now demanding a meeting with Prez Nik who is a soft touch. Akel chief Andros, who is on the side of the unions as a matter of faith, has also called on the Prez to intervene and resolve the dispute as if Nik is an arbitration service.

Comrade Andros sensed that the teachers have turned everyone against them and Nik’s intervention could offered them a face-saving way out. His intervention should be prevented at all costs because he will not only undermine his minister, but he will also agree to new reasons for more cuts to the weekly teaching hours.

The missing CBC governor

CRYSTAL, the alleged governor of the Central Bank, finally came out of hiding last week giving an interview to the Capital Today website in which she followed the example of the teachers and took the role of victim. There was an orchestrated campaign to undermine her, she claimed.

“Here they crucified Jesus Christ and they would be ashamed to crucify Chrystallou,” she asked and added: “What in essence bothers those who belong to the organised ring that undermines me is that I know a lot about many.” It was shameful for some to claim that she was hiding, she said.

She retracted most of the stuff the next day, claiming she was misunderstood and that what she told the journalist was not for publication. She would have done well to follow the advice of Mark Twain, who once said: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”


THE FALLOUT of the glossary allowed the less literary among us to discover that we have a Union of Cyprus Writers. The English translation does not do justice to the Greek title, which refers not to just any writer (even I could have become a member) but to ‘literary writers’ (logotechnis) such as poets and novelists. Dr Eleni Theocharous is a member.

Anyway the president and vice president of the union last weekend announced their resignations on social media, because they wanted to differentiate themselves from the union’s general secretary Maria Shakalli who was one of the authors of the treacherous glossary. More resignations followed this week and it was announced that a meeting would be held in September to elect a new board.

I doubt Shakalli will be able to hold on to her post after her appallingly unpatriotic behaviour. In Kyproulla even our great literary minds behave like fascists when national security is being threatened by a few words.


SPEAKING of the power of words, Phil reported on its front page on Thursday “the events of the invaders will be more provocative this year”, in reference to the fanfare to mark the anniversary of the invasion in the north. This was because more Turkish fighter jets would fly over the military parade than last year. But it was not the only reason that the events were more provocative. This year the jets would fly over three different areas, whereas last year they flew over only two areas. If in next year’s anniversary, fewer fighter jets take part in the parade, what are the chances Phil would report “events of the invaders less provocative this year”.


THE INVESTIGATION ordered by the attorney-general into the fiasco of the Pentakomo waste treatment plant turned out to be a sham, its primary concern being to show us all that the mighty Odysseas is infallible. I suspect it is only a question of time before the edict of Odyssean infallibility will be issued by the auditor-general’s office.

The Pentakomo plant has proved a glorified landfill as the rubbish is treated before it is buried. The plan was to produce Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) that could be sold to factories but the plant produces nothing any factory can use so none of the waste is recycled. How we will meet the EU target of recycling 50 per cent of household waste by 2020 when the brand-new treatment plant does not do recycling, nobody knows.

Perhaps the infallible auditor-general could give an answer, as he played a leading part in creating this mess, something that nobody would guess by reading the 19-page report issued by the three-man investigative committee. The report avoided the slightest mention of Odysseas’ blunders, while informing us, that the Pentakomo fiasco would have been avoided if the government had done what the infallible one dictated – building four plants that produced unusable sludge.

The report even paid tribute to Odysseas by name for being flawless and coming up with all the right answers. It could not have been more biased if he had written it himself.


YOU ONLY had to listen to one of the members of the investigative committee, Professor Panos Papanastasiou, who, speaking on Politis radio last week sounded more like an Odysseas groupie.

It was weird listening to the professor lavishing praise on Odysseas, endorsing his version of events and not expressing the slightest hint of doubt for academic purposes if nothing else.  Perhaps the AG did not know that Papanastasiou was such a big Odysseas fan when appointing him to the investigative committee.

Everyone remembers the fuss Odysseas made when the government decided to set up an investigation committee. First, he objected to the period that would be investigated, not wanting it to stretch back to the period when he was calling the shots as a ministry technocrat. Why, he never explained.

Then he objected to the investigative committee the council of ministers decided to appoint, issuing fire and brimstone announcements about conflict of interest. The government had decided to appoint the chairman of the Bar Association, Doros Ioannides as chairman of the committee but Odysseas identified a conflict of interest.

Ioannides was the brother of the labour minister Zeta Emilianidou, a member of the council of ministers which had taken the decisions regarding Pentakomo and there was therefore a conflict of interest. He also forbade the council of ministers from appointing the committee, because it was involved in the decision making. Ioannides had another weakness – he was not an Odysseas fan.


IN THE END Odysseas’ good friend, AG Costas Clerides, appointed the committee so there would be no conflict of interest. Apart from Papanastasiou, it included a lawyer with a private practice and tax official whose department has dealings with the auditor-general’s office.

Nowhere in the committee’s report was it mentioned that the EU had twice rejected the waste treatment option advocated by the infallible Odysseas because it considered it the wrong choice. In the end the EU agreed to provide the funds, with the proviso that the government would have to return the money if the project proved a mistake, which it has.

The taxpayer will now have to return €70m to the EU, but the investigative committee did not consider this worth mentioning in its whitewash of a report. Instead, it blamed the technocrats of the ministries for the mess and exonerated the politicians who took the final decisions on the advice of Odysseas.

As soon as this whitewash was published, the unforgiving Odysseas issued an announcement demanding the punishment of the lowly ministry technocrats who will now carry the can for costly blunders of the politicians and the infallible auditor-general.


PREZ NIK on Monday will meet the UNSG’s representative Jane Holl Lute to discuss the possibility of a resumption of the procedure for a settlement. She will also meet Mustafa Akinci, before flying back to New York. If I were to bet on the outcome, I would put my money on the continuation of the stalemate, not only because the invasion celebrations were more provocative this year, but I have insider information that Turkey will be intransigent.

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