You may have heard of Jimmy Hoffa. If you are wondering who that is, he was the chairman of the truckers union in the US during the time John F. Kennedy was president.
He had mafia links, investments in casinos and lived a lavish lifestyle, was eventually jailed for a period of time for bribery and is believed to have been murdered. When he was being investigated by the government Hoffa called a national strike which almost brought the US economy to its knees.
One of the many problems that the Cyprus government has, is the behaviour of some unions which resembles blackmail, so that in the end the economy of the country cannot function.
Civil servants and public service bodies, like the EAC, port authorities, water authorities and so one, despite their inefficiency and indifference have never-ending demands which damage to Cyprus economy and by extension all of us.
Some recent examples that we have experienced follow:
- We were asked by a foreign investor who wished to acquire a large building plot in Nicosia to investigate the development parameters of the planning zone that the plot is in, that of the local commercial centre. The department of town planning never came through despite several reminders and a meeting. The district planning office, asked that we submit a written request (again) for preliminary planning views. After waiting four months we informed the investor of the situation and they gave gave up and abandoned the project.
- Another foreign investor proposed to develop an Adventure Park in Troodos. Although his application was initially approved by the Council of Ministers, he then waited for two years to be find out what the lease rental would be. Again the project was abandoned.
- The much published scheme to attract highly paid foreign workers to Cyprus seems to have run into trouble before it even started because applications cannot be processed in a timely manner as it takes months to secure an appointment.
These and tens of other cases are examples of what comes from having untouchable unions whose members cannot be fired from their job.
Now let’s look at the differences that we have experienced when work that used to be carried out by the civil service is undertaken by private companies, such as:
- You may remember the almost daily strikes that the airports used to suffer, with the most memorable one being by the luggage porters who complained that the luggage was too heavy for them to unload from the planes. Since the privatisation of the airports there have been no serious strikes.
- There used to be a similar situation with the ports. Since their privatisation, though there are some problems at this initial stage of privatisation, they are solved within a short period of time.
- Court bailiffs used to take their time to deliver documents to litigants which resulted in greasing of palms. Now that this service has been privatised, the delivery happens within a very short period of time with no cash under the table.
- Land surveys used to be exclusively carried out by civil servants. The lands office was at the top of our list for corruption and it took months for execution. Now that this work is done by private surveyors, the time and cost is much reduced.
- This month the Electricity Authority Unions declared their intention to strike, though they called it off at the last minute. This situation remains unresolved.
So it seems we are not so much governed by the elected government, as we are by the unions and the other ‘mob’ that we have become accustomed to.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]
The opinions expressed are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cyprus Mail