PASYDY ready for decisive pan-union debate

THE GOVERNMENT faces an uphill battle today to get full union agreement on its proposal for the civil service to contribute €70m over two years to state coffers.

Unions across the board representing 60,000 employees in the wider public sector meet today to discuss the proposal with some, like secondary teachers’ union OELMEK, having already rejected it.

The government has proposed docking a small percentage from employees earning over €1,500 a month for 2011 and 2012. The special levy is based on a sliding scale with high-wage earners contributing more than those below them.

Our View: Despite threats of open revolt, early polls, Papandreou shows requisite leadership

DESPITE the demonstrations and the rioting on the streets of Athens, the austerity measures were yesterday approved by Greece’s parliament. Party discipline prevailed as only one deputy from ruling PASOK voted against the €28-billion package.  Today there will be a vote on a change in law that would allow the package to be put in place. It will probably pass with the same number of votes.

Secular Turkish Cypriot teachers aghast at plans for Islamic school

SECULARIST Turkish Cypriot teachers’ unions and educationalists expressed anger yesterday after a mainland Turkish religious association announced plans to open an Islamic school or madrassa in the north.

“They have judged our beliefs and come to the conclusion that we are not Muslim enough,” Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union (KTOS) boss Sener Elicil yesterday of the Theology and Islamic Institute Graduates’ Association’s (TIYEMDER) plans to open the religious high school on the island. He added that Turkish Cypriots were “quite happy with their beliefs”.

Omonia and player prosecuted for hiding true earnings in false contract

POLICE have opened a criminal case against a popular football club, its chairman and a former player in connection with drafting a double contract to hide earnings, it emerged yesterday.

Reports said Attorney-general Petros Clerides has ordered police to prosecute 2011 cup winners Omonia, its chairman Miltiades Neophytou and former club striker Yiannakis Okkas, for drafting a double contract to hide the player’s real revenues.

It all started in 2009, after Okkas, who now plays for Anorthosis, had his contract terminated for misconduct.

Okkas appealed to a court, claiming double the money – around a million euros – than what was provided for in the contract filed with the Cyprus Football Federation.

US places Cyprus on sex-trafficking ‘watch list’

CYPRUS has been placed on the US’ sex trafficking watch list after failing to meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, failing to show evidence of increased efforts to do so and ‘woefully inadequate’ punishments.

According to the US Department of State’s 2011 report: “The Government of Cyprus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking… (having) failed to demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking… and failed to vigorously prosecute or convict trafficking offenders.”

The stark assessment means Cyprus has moved from a “Tier 2” to a “Tier 2 watch list” country, alongside, among others, Burundi, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Call for UEFA help in probing possible fixed matches

THE Attorney-general has ordered the police to submit a new request to European football government body UEFA for help in investigating the files that were sent to Cyprus on possible fixed matches.

Police Spokesman Michalis Katsounotos yesterday confirmed the AG’s request.

“The Cyprus police will submit a new request to UEFA immediately, through the Cyprus Football Association but also a company that is connected to UEFA, in an effort to secure added evidence for the investigation into claims that there are fixed football games,” said Katsounotos.

He added that AG Petros Clerides sent the relevant files back to the force, with specific orders to re-open the case and seek more specific information from UEFA.

TV ads most useful in informing public about digital switchover

IN AN effort to alleviate doubts that the public were not properly informed about tomorrow’s analogue to digital switchover, the department in charge of publicising the changes said around 94.3 per cent of participants in a survey this week were aware of the switchover.

The survey carried out by the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulations (OCECPR) involved 1352 participants island wide who were interviewed over the phone by the telephone centre Evresis, between June 22 and 27.

Legislation proposed for private security firm crackdown

LAWMAKERS yesterday finished discussing a law proposal that gives police increased powers in a bid to put an end to the often unlawful practices of so-called private security firms.

The chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee, DISY MP Ionas Nicolaou said the proposal, that amends the law on private security firms, is an effort to effectively tackle the “private army” phenomena, which “create significant problems to Cypriot society”.

“Unfortunately, in our country today there are organised private armies and groups who seek to provide protection, not only to businesses, but to individuals,” Nicolaou said.

He said parliament will provide the police with the powers and expected the force to use them to stop these practices.

Cyprus is a top EU performer for people with jobs

Cyprus has one of the highest employment rates in the European Union with about 75 per cent of individuals between the ages of 20 and 64 holding down a job, according to the latest Eurostat survey for 2010.

Sweden topped the chart at an employment rate of 78.7 per cent, followed by 76.8 for the Netherlands and 76.1 per cent for Denmark.

Cyprus was not too far behind at 75.4 per cent with Germany and Austria following closely at 74.9 per cent.

Malta fared the worst at 59.9 per cent with Hungary following suit at 60.4 and Italy hovering at third at 61.1.

Relatively more men than women were employed everywhere in the European Union with the exception of Lithuania.

Migrants need to be integrated says ministry

THIRD country nationals are hampered by language problems, difficulties in accessing health services and racism, a report showed yesterday.

The report by Marketway and Pulse Market Research was compiled on behalf of the Interior Ministry’s civil registry and migration department and was co-funded by the European Union’s Integration Fund.

Around 1,000 legally employed migrants were interviewed from across the island.

Most come from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam with about 70 per cent of those interviewed being women.

The study aimed to locate vulnerable groups, define their unmet needs and suggest ways to integrate migrants in Cypriot society.

About a third of those asked reported wanting better government services.