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Labour ministry has ‘shut its doors and switched off phones’ to pensioners

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

Pensioners are frustrated over the difficulty in reaching the labour ministry to sort out problems concerning their pensions and allowances.

The Union of Cypriot Pensioners (Ekysy) said every day they receive numerous complaints from thousands of pensioners “who have reached their limits due to the unacceptable tactics by the labour ministry’s welfare benefit management service in not responding to their calls.”

The union said that the ministry’s services have “shut their doors and switched off their phones.”

Head of the union Costas Skarparis said pensioners face serious problems because they cannot contact the welfare benefit management service at all, nor are they allowed to visit the offices to solve problems.

He said many receive letters they cannot understand and are also constantly asked to produce new documents or evidence relating to their applications so that they do not lose the allowances they receive as low-income pensioners.

He said it was unacceptable that during a pandemic, the service in question was asking from pensioners to present documents on social insurance, which the service itself can access very simply through its direct connection with the social insurance services.

Skarparis said it was also unacceptable that pensioners are asked to present EAC bills to prove their history of electricity consumption for the last five years as well as bank account statements for a period of two years when, according to the service’s own regulations, this is necessary only for the last 12 months.

The union gave as an example cases of pensioners who have been unsuccessfully trying to contact the service.

One of them, Andreas Liasides, said he has been trying to contact officials dealing with low-income pensions since last December without any success and despite leaving messages and sending a letter to the  head of the service in January.

Ekysy also said they had requested a meeting with the welfare benefit management service some two months ago to discuss these problems but have not heard from them yet.

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