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Men arrested after fracas at welfare office (Update 2)

ΓΡΑΦΕΙΟ ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΚΩΝ ΥΠΗΡΕΣΙΩΝ ΖΗΜΙΕΣ

Three men who were arrested following an incident at Polemidia social welfare office on Thursday morning will be taken to court after terrorising staff members and causing damages to the building.

A police source earlier in the day said that officers were sent to the scene following a fracas caused by 10 people claiming they were owed money by the welfare services.

Welfare officers were reportedly trapped in their offices after one of the men broke the glass entrance door, entered the building and attempted to enter offices by kicking down doors, injuring his leg in the process.

According to staff, the man was demanding that the amount of money on his welfare cheque be given to him in cash.

He was eventually arrested along with two more men who joined in on the agitation, according to police. They will face the Limassol district court on Friday.

Later on in the day, civil servants’ union Pasydy joined labour minister Zeta Emilianidou in condemning the incident.

Emilianidou tweeted that she “unequivocally condemn[s]” any action against welfare officials, “whose mission is to serve the public”.

“We are fully aware of the difficulties that our fellow human beings are facing during this difficult period, but we cannot accept any violent or illegal action against our officials,” she added.

Social welfare officials “make superhuman efforts daily to manage their huge workload and serve the maximum number of people as efficiently and quickly as possible,” Pasydy said in a written announcement.

The announcement also pointed out that this is the second time in the last seven months that the specific office was the target of unprovoked violence.

Representing welfare workers, Pasydy’s Joseph Michael thanked the police for their swift response to the incident, calling on the President to “finally protect us”.

“Such sad incidents are lately a very common phenomenon, which endangers both the staff and the public, making colleagues’ work even harder,” Pasydy said.

According to Pasydy’s announcement, social welfare offices islandwide joined the Polemidia office in a spontaneous work stoppage between 11am and noon “to protest the state’s inability to protect welfare workers,” which puts them in peril of physical harm.

Lastly, the union called on the state to implement strict measures for the protection of both those working in “sensitive and critical” sectors of the service industry, but also the public.

 

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