Strike Threat Hangs Over House Economic Austerity Vote
The threat of strike action in the public sector is hanging over a furious debate in the House of Representatives on economic austerity measures aimed at saving the economy, hit by rising governemnt debt and a loss of confidence from international investors.
Law makers are still currently reviewing new proposals amid disagreements and a very tense situation in the House. Originally slated for 4pm today, the vote may be postponed further to 5pm or even 7pm, said sources at the House.
Most political parties except AKEL do not support a package of measures tabled by the government because they raise taxes on individuals and businesses and do not go far enough to cut public spending and reform government employee pensions.
The vote has already been postponed twice this month, midst a delicate situation in which trade unions have threatened strike action if they are not consulted over changes to the public sector's working conditions.
DISY MP Christos Stylianides said he hopes that the 'dramatically historic' negotiations succeed: "Foreign rating agencies are watching us. If we are cut to junk status, it will destroy our economic system and Cyprus as a financial services centre," said Stylianides.
Any measures passed by Parliament today will be just the beginning, he said. More measures will be needed to get Cyprus out of the economic crisis caused by a wider sovereign debt crisis in the EU, and exacerbated by an additional 700 million euros in damage to Vasiliko power station in the wake of the deadly explosion on July 11th. This year, GDP growth is expected to stagnate, given the additional burden on the economy.