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.

According to head of the powerful civil servants union PASYDY, Glafcos Hadjipetrou, the union’s central secretariat was yesterday authorised by the general council to take any necessary decisions in today’s meeting.

Hadjipetrou told Cyprus News Agency that the nine-member secretariat had been authorised to seek consensual solutions in today’s meeting with the other unions.

“The aim is to find a common position, a convergence of views,” he said.

According to state broadcaster CyBC, a significant number of dissenting voices were heard from the 116 representatives at the general council regarding the proposed contribution.

The broadcaster cited sources saying that the PASYDY leadership did not want to have its hands tied should right-wing union SEK refuse to accept the government proposal. The weighty union reportedly does not want to be seen pushing for something that other unions do not want.

The pan-union meeting will take place this morning at 10am at SEK’s offices.

An hour earlier, the board of primary school teachers union POED will convene to decide their position on the proposal. So far, there have been murmurs of doubt about it.

The secondary school teachers union OELMEK has already rejected the proposal, slamming the government measures to save €70m from the state payroll on Tuesday, saying they were “clearly unfair”.

The teacher union’s board, which claims to represent over 6,000 educators, said the special levy would not be accepted for two years, hinting however that a one-off levy might be more digestible.

The temporary pay cuts are part of a package of measures announced by the government to alleviate state finances, including a measure targeting the private sector. The government also hopes to raise cash by taxing companies that have shown profits for the past three years €1,000 each per year for 2011 and 2012.

Small shopkeepers union POVEK already announced its decision not to accept the €1,000 levy on Monday, finding unfair the uniform levy imposed on the private sector, regardless of the size of turnover for each company.

“We were not even invited to give our opinions while in practice we are called upon to pay the cost of this proposal, which we consider unacceptable,” said a POVEK statement.

The government has come under fire from various quarters for its announced measures, with critics bewailing the absence of long-term structural changes in the package. Market observers fear failure to tackle ailing state finances and the swelling state payroll puts Cyprus in line for further downgrades by international rating agencies.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting yesterday, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said President Demetris Christofias approved a request made at the national council meeting on Tuesday to hold a meeting of party leaders on the economy.

Every party leader will bring experts to the meeting to discuss issues regarding the economy, he said.

Cyprus Mail

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