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State Employee Union U-Turn On Elections Boycott

pasydyState employee union PASYDY has reversed its decision urging members to boycott Sunday's municipal elections and has now said that civil servants should vote normally.

Tensions and tempers have been running high amid a vote in the House of Representatives approving a new package of austerity measures which would see civil servant salaries frozen for two years.

pasydyAfter decades of special benefits, annual salary increases and the assurance of permanent jobs, state employees are now facing similar uncertainties as the private sector. The austerity measures are aimed at preventing Cyprus from entering the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and ending up in the same situation as Greece. EU-IMF lenders demanded strict economic reforms in exchange for billions of euros in bailout money after Greece said it would go bankrupt and could not pay its debts and costs. If the island is forced to enter the EFSF, public sector employees stand to lose much more, including salary cuts and mass job cuts as happened in Greece.

Yesterday, December 15th, state employees went on a 12-hour strike, causing widespread inconvenience and resentment and the forced rescheduling of all flights from Larnaca and Paphos airports. Hospital staff were only available for emergency treatment and many people who showed up at state hospitals were turned away as doctors refused to see them.

The two-year wage freeze is going ahead nonetheless, and the government expects to save 230 million euros per year alone from this one measure.

Chief Returning Officer Andreas Assiotis said that whether PASYDY boycotted elections or not would have made little difference since 90 percent of the workers at 1401 polling stations already confirmed they would work during the elections.

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