Paphos district lifeguards have announced a two-hour work stoppage in protest of under staffing and other longstanding issues.

In an official statement the lifeguards said they took the decision last week during the annual general meeting of the professional lifeguards’ association.

The smooth operation of organised beaches and the safety of bathers, as well as lifeguards in Paphos, is seriously compromised and requires immediate remediation, according to the association.

“We have a lot of problems, including lack of utterly basic equipment,” one lifeguard told the Cyprus Mail. “We are supposed to be provided with binoculars, walkie-talkies, a megaphone, a stretcher, and a complete first aid kit, at minimum. Up to half of the towers don’t have all of these – let alone rescue boards or jet skis,” the source said.

Paphos currently has 34 lifeguard stations, some dating from the 1990s, which require upgrading, the lifeguard rep added.

“Some towers are unsuitable, they have steep stairs, no shade and no room for equipment,” he said, adding that a standard shift for lifeguards is seven and a half hours, six days a week.

There are currently 13 vacant lifeguard positions, and several stations are understaffed, in particular those at Bania, SODAP and Polis Chrysochous beach, which operate year-round, the lifeguards’ announcement stated.

The association’s justified request for at least five additional 12-month postings is in limbo and “despite intense efforts in recent years, has not yet materialised,” the association said.

“We handle at least one incident daily, district-wide, at some beaches where the waves are frequently high, we may pre-emptively escort up to 15 people out of the water,” the CM source said, detailing that incidents are not limited to dramatic sea-rescues of the popular imagination, but range from sun strokes to inebriation, or children being trapped or hurt on rocks.

The association reiterated its position that a beach security service be immediately created, which will go long way towards resolving outstanding problems and increasing safety.

“We are determined to escalate measures in the event that immediate corrective action is not taken,” the statement concludes.

The work stoppage is scheduled for June 27, from 8 until 10am.