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Cyprus

Pensioners union warns of action over widowers’ pensions

File Photo: pensioners out demonstrating (Christos Theodorides)

The pensioners’ union Ekysy on Saturday called on the government to review its position on widowers’ pensions so that everyone is eligible instead of only those whose wives passed away after January 1, 2018, warning it would take measures against the decision.

The union was reacting to the passing by the House plenum on Friday of a new law on widowers’ pensions after the previous one was deemed unconstitutional.

The law regulates a man’s right to a widower’s pension and provides that widowers whose wife passed away on or after January 1, 2018 will have the right to file an application.

Ekysy said in an announcement “if the government really wanted to solve the problem presented as regards widowers’ pension, it ought to send a comprehensive bill to parliament”.

The union said they have pointed out to the labour minister and the House labour committee that the government’s insistence on excluding men whose wives died prior to that date created great inequality and subsequently a constitutional problem arises.

The new law continues to violate article 28 of the Constitution which is the principle of equality since based on the law now “widowers are divided into two categories, the lucky and unlucky ones depending on when their wives passed away,” Ekysy said.

The union said it was discussing measures with its legal advisors and would take decisions “to solve the problem in a way that injustice against widowed men will be permanently lifted.”

During the discussion that preceded the vote at the House plenum of Friday, it was said that around 7,000 men would be excluded as they did not meet the date criteria.

MPs who were against the date criteria argued that the law was constitutionally vulnerable and it might not hold up in court in case a widower seeks legal measures over unequal treatment.

The law was initially passed in July 2018. In its initial form, the bill made eligible those men whose wives died on or after January 1, 2018, but at the last minute Akel and the Greens inserted an amendment, creating eligibility irrespective of the date of the spouse’s death. The law passed as amended.

But President Nicos Anastasiades referred the law to Supreme Court as unconstitutional because the legislature took an action that brought about an increase in government spending – expanding the number of beneficiaries and thus the payouts.

 

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