The revelation on Tuesday that government doctors are on annual salaries of about €150,000 did not go down very well with their union Pasyki, which immediately went on the offensive. Its belligerent leader, Dr Sotiris Koumas, accused Okypy, the state medical service, whose spokesman spilled the beans, of “disappointingly dismissive behaviour” towards the workers of the public hospitals. Okypy’s “dismissive behaviour” towards doctors, repeated the representative of Pasydy, which also represents hospital doctors.

Okypy spokesman, Charalambos Charilaou referred to doctors’ salaries on a morning radio show on which he was commenting on Pasyki’s decision to call a 24-hour strike on June 20. He had said that hospital doctors were not just making as much per year as personal doctors – after the generous rises sanctioned by the government a couple of years ago – but they also enjoyed many other benefits. Unlike personal doctors, said Charilaou, they did not have to pay for assistants and rent for offices out of their income; being public employees they were also entitled to work fewer hours, to paid holiday, sick leave, a retirement bonus and big state pension.

The reaction of the unions was to be expected as their members had been exposed as arguably the greediest, most selfish public employees in Cyprus, whose sense of entitlement is without limit. Is there any country in the world in which employees on €150,000 a year are regularly threatening strikes because they want even more money? This is the type of behaviour that would have been perfectly understandable from overworked manual labourers and farm workers on the minimum wage, but from the highest paid public employees it is disgraceful.

Government doctors should have been embarrassed by their unions’ disregard for hospital patients – if they do not get the money they are demanding they have threatened another two days of strikes in early July – who might miss important appointment because of the blackmail tactics. And for what? So that obscenely highly paid public employees could earn even more money. Pasyki claims it is money that is owed to doctors by Okypy that is being demanded, but this is not so clear-cut. This is part of their pay that is incentive-linked and was not given because targets were not met. The union demands this money is paid regardless and has been in talks with Okypy.

Nobody seems to realise that public hospitals will never become viable which is the plan. The wages Okypy is paying hospital doctors and nurses, who keep demanding more, are guaranteed to lead to their eventual collapse. Unless the doctors are under the illusion that the taxpayer will keep satisfying their greed and selfishness indefinitely. It must be stopped if we are going to still have a public hospitals in three years’ time.