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Cyprus residents hurt by EU sanctions

russian sanctions ukraine

By Yiannis Seitanidis

EU sanctions against Russia are having a negative impact on businesses in Cyprus, with closures and redundancies as a consequence, according to the European Sanctions Affecting People Association (ESAPA).

The association was set up to organise and coordinate the people whose jobs have been affected by European sanctions.

Both Cypriots and foreigners have been impacted, particularly those foreign nationals who have relocated to Cyprus.

According to the association, not only are their members losing their jobs, but some cannot even be paid what they are entitled to under their contract, as the bank accounts of the companies affected by the sanctions have been blocked. In some cases, even accrued wages were affected, only ultimately being paid with much effort and difficulty.

“What we are demanding is that these people should be able to get paid,” ESAPA president Maria Ioannidou told the newspaper.

At this stage, the extent of the impact of the sanctions on the Cypriot economy cannot be accurately assessed, but a small number of businesses have already shut down, with the largest closure to date being that of shipping company SCF Management Services.

The closure of one of the largest shipping companies in Cyprus leaves behind 140 people without employment.

The employees of SCF Management Services who were made redundant were the first members of ESAPA.

Three other companies with a smaller number of employees, approximately 20 to 30 each, have reportedly also closed down.

Additionally, service sector companies are reducing their staff numbers by laying off those workers who were hired to deal with the Russian market.

ESAPA has sent a letter to both President Anastasiades, as well as the Labour and Finance Ministries, with an additional notification to the Central Bank of Cyprus, describing the situation.

The association is also requesting that bank restrictions are lifted or suspended so that workers can receive their full salaries.

At the same time, contacts have also been made with members of parliament who will bring the issue to the House.

Additional requests include compensation and allowances for loss of employment and a disruption to their career, as well as assistance so that they can find similar or equivalent roles in other companies in Cyprus.

Moreover, the letter criticises the way in which European sanctions have been adopted within the Cypriot legal system, without fully taking into account their consequences.

The letter stresses that the purpose of the regulation on international sanctions against companies of Russian interests is not to punish workers, and therefore asks the government to take measures to mitigate the consequences on workers.

“The aim of the association is to find a fair solution for these people who, from one moment to the next, found themselves exposed,” the letter said.

“None of the Cypriot residents in question expected or could have foreseen the sudden closure of their companies, as it was a financially very lucrative and stable business,” it added.

In addition, those affected had been in their positions for a number of years and received high remuneration for their services, accompanied by bonuses, family medical insurance plans and excellent working conditions.

“Now, even people in their fifties and sixties were suddenly on the street, looking in vain for something similar, having built their lives on the basis of this very stable situation they had experienced until May 13, when the news of their dismissal came,” the letter stated.

Attached to the letter are testimonies from employees who describe how they found themselves in dire financial and personal situations, with loans that cannot be repaid, as well as students with no income from their parents.

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