Cyprus Mail

Union reps accuse Anastasiades of sexist, offensive comments

CoLA strike, demonstration, protest
Workers demonstrating for CoLA to be paid earlier this year Photo: Christos Theodorides

Politicians and unions reps collectively blasted President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday, after he appeared to making a dig at Akel’s former Labour Minister Sotiroula Charalambous as “a yelling woman”.

Anastasiades did not name the minister but said in a statement the previous day that during his observation of the national strike on Thursday “I heard a woman yelling over something which she should apologise to employees about.”

The union made the connection with Charalambous because Anastasiades said it was during the Akel government that the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA) was scrapped and it was his tenure that brought it back.

His comments were perceived at pointing the finger to the minister in charge at the time, who is now currently serving as Peo general secretary.

Speaking out to Alpha, Charalambous said it was sad that the president of a country chose to make such personal attacks that revealed his sexism.

Presidential candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis called the statements unacceptable and “offensive to women. Derogatory for unions, workers, citizens, the right to expression. A pity.”

Meanwhile, Peo also decried Anastasiades’ statements deeming them “highly offensive and sexist.”

Peo also said they would not stop their fight over CoLa demands both for those who strike and those who did not. The swathes of people who turned up to protest were indicative of public sentiment and “a historic day” for employees in Cyprus.

The fight is not only for now but for the generations to come, while the strike also sent out a clear message to employees that they would not tolerate being used in their jobs, Peo said.

The union also added that with Anastasiades comments towards the former labour minister, this was also singling out Peo, though there were 12 unions striking.

Former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, who also served under Christofias’ government said Anastasiades should be ashamed of himself over what he said. She added his policies had dragged Cyprus’ gender equality markers to the pits of the EU.

“It’s bad enough you brought Cyprus to unprecedented levels of poverty while supporting the financial benefits for a select few including your relatives and close business circles, you now attack in such a hideous and degrading manner Peo’s general secretary Sotiroula Charalambous.”

Marcoullis described the comments as unacceptable in every possible way and that they revealed Anastasiades’ true attitudes towards women in Cyprus.

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