Limassol district court has handed down jail sentences to three men who were arrested last week for creating a disturbance and causing damage to the social welfare office at Polemidia, Limasol.
The three defendants appeared before the court on Monday. The first defendant, a man aged 23 who had kicked and broken the doors to the offices demanding his welfare money in cash and terrorised staff who took refuge on the balcony, was jailed for two months.
Two others, aged 25 and 35, who caused a disturbance once police arrived, were jailed for 15 days.
The incident occurred last Thursday and prompted a work stoppage by staff to protest what they said is the state’s inability to protect them. Police were sent to the welfare office following a fracas by 10 people claiming they were owed money by the welfare services. 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.
Civil servants’ union Pasydy joined Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou in immediately 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”.