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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-09

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, August 9, 2002


  • [01] Banks reopen as strike ends
  • [02] Desalination plant resumes production
  • [03] Minister orders urgent probe into airbus incident
  • [04] Greens lobby the Queen in antenna campaign
  • [05] 'Long way to go' before Akamas is protected
  • [06] Opposition journalists jailed in the north
  • [07] Nicosia radio emissions well over allowed limits

  • [01] Banks reopen as strike ends

    By Alex Mita

    COMMERCIAL banks will be open for business today following the end of a weeklong dispute between the Bankers Employers' Association (BEA) and the bank employees' trade union ETYK.

    Staff at Laiki Bank's computing centre had refused to work in the afternoon, accusing the bank of employing private contractors in violation of the current collective agreement.

    Bank managers said the disruption at the centre made transactions unreliable, and therefore closed the bank to the public on Monday and Wednesday this week. They had been due to be closed today. The Bank of Cyprus was also closed on Monday, citing a knock-on effect on its transactions.

    But intense mediation by the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance yesterday left both sides in the dispute satisfied, after it said that Laiki had violated an existing agreement, and ETYK had breached the code of industrial relations.

    ETYK has now lifted the overtime ban at the computer centre, while employers said banks would be open today. ETYK expressed their satisfaction that the Ministry of Labour had come to the conclusion that the BEA had breached the collective agreement.

    ETYK permanent secretary Loizos Hadjicostis said he was satisfied with the decision. "We are happy with the Ministry's decision, as it has restored order as regards the existing agreements and justifies our views," he said.

    Asked if he could reveal when negotiations would resume on the broader dispute over the renewal of the collective agreement, Hadjicostis said this was a matter that would be entirely up to the Labour Minister.

    The BEA said it did not agree with the Ministry's ruling, but pledged to follow the procedures directed by the Code of Industrial Relations.

    BEA director, Christos Taliadoros stressed that the Ministry had also found that by taking industrial action, ETYK had violated the principles of the Code.

    The Head of the Industrial Relations Service, Charalambos Kolokotronis, said the decision had created a lighter climate, in which the issues regarding the renewal of the collective agreement could be negotiated. Kolokotronis said that the issue was in the hands of Labour Minister, Andreas Moushiouttas, who will take the initiative to find a solution to the dispute between the two sides.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Desalination plant resumes production

    By Soteris Charalambous

    MANAGEMENT at the Pelagos Desalination plant in Larnaca yesterday confirmed that operations staff had returned to work and that the plant was back in operation.

    Dr. Erineos Koutsakos, who has taken responsibility for plant management, could not officially announce that the strike had ended, but expressed optimism that an official statement could be made today following the conclusion of high level negotiations between government officials, unions, and plant management.

    Koutsakos said: "As far as the plant is concerned, there are no more barriers or barricades (at the plant's entrance), the protests have ended and the (operations) staff are back to work."

    Koutsakos explained that one of the conditions for the negotiations taking place had been a cessation of the strike action. Asked if the unions had been granted their demands for a collective agreement, he replied, "The negotiations are moving in that direction."

    PEO union representative Achilleas Themosthenous also confirmed that the strike action had ended, adding that the demand for a collective agreement had been met.

    The union's announcement stated that the Labour Ministry's mediation service had tabled a comprehensive proposal, effective for three years, which encompassed pay and conditions, and had been accepted by both sides.

    Operations staff at the plant that converts seawater into drinking water had been on strike since the end of July and forced a shut down in production on Saturday after protesting workers closed off access into the plant.

    Koutsakos denied reports that plant manager Phanos Pantechis had resigned as a result of the strike action, saying the 65-year old "was taking a break". He added: "Spirits among the workforce are good, they have been eager to get back to work."

    Asked if the plant had experienced any operational problems as a result of industrial action, Koutsakos replied, "The plant was at 75 per cent capacity within three hours of their return to work and the quality of the water is as good as ever as a result of a controlled shut down (on Saturday)."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Minister orders urgent probe into airbus incident

    By Jean Christou

    COMMUNICATIONS and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday he hoped to have a report in a matter of days on an incident on Wednesday night when an Airbus A330 clipped a pylon while taxiing at Paphos Airport.

    Neophytou visited the airport yesterday to establish how the accident, which caused slight damage to the aircraft's wing, had happened.

    The aircraft left the island early yesterday afternoon after repairs were carried out on the damaged wing, according to Andreas Opsimos, inspector of Civil Aviation at Paphos Airport.

    The incident occurred at around 8pm on Wednesday as the 'My Travel' (formerly Airtours) plane carrying 357 passengers taxied towards the parking apron on arrival from Gatwick.

    "We have asked for a full investigation to be carried out as soon as possible," Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. He said there were conflicting reports as to how the taxiing plane went off course. "Each side is blaming the other," he said referring to the aircraft captain and the marshals guiding the plane to a stop. "They each gave very different accounts."

    Neophytou said he hoped to have a report on the incident in a matter of days. "We have the co-operation of the airline as well and the manager of the safety department has flown in," Neophytou said.

    Reports from Paphos yesterday suggested that the pilot was to blame and that he had gone off course while following the 'Follow Me' truck to the parking apron. However, informed sources told the Cyprus Mail that preliminary indications showed it was the marshals that were to blame.

    Opsimos told the Cyprus Mail there was no question of a lack of space at the parking area, even though the A330 is probably the largest aircraft landing at Paphos. He said the runway at Paphos was the same as the one at Larnaca at 2,700 metres long and a width of 45 metres. The wingspan of the A330 is 60 metres and under international regulations the runway is of an adequate width to accommodate it.

    One foreign pilot who regularly lands at Paphos said the authorities had extended the parking apron, but that certain markings had yet to be added, which would help guide the pilots to stop. "I was there in the last couple of days and we were guided only by the central line and hand signals," he said. "If people are not trained properly in guiding, this can be a problem."

    Two years ago, a jet blast from a Boeing 747 dislodged wires on the runway at Paphos airport, causing a 40-minute blackout.

    The incident happened around 9pm after two 747s had taken off in quick succession. A jet blast from the second aircraft blew the wires one metre back into the power supply, plunging the runway into darkness. The incident occurred as work was taking place to extend the aprons.

    Paphos and Larnaca airports are both undergoing extensive changes ahead of the building of two new airports to accommodate a growing number of arrivals to the island each year.

    Larnaca handles over four million passengers a year while Paphos handles nearly 1.5 million.

    Once the new airports are built, Larnaca will be able to serve six million arrivals and departures and Paphos two million. The new airports will retain the existing runways, which have been extended with rapid exits created to cut down on the time it takes aircraft to reach parking areas, which means another approaching flight can land more quickly. There is also provision in the plans for new runways in the future.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Greens lobby the Queen in antenna campaign

    By Jean Christou

    GREEN party leader and deputy George Perdikis yesterday sent a letter to the Queen to protest against the installation of the antenna at the British base of Akrotiri, asking her to help stop the construction and save the area.

    The letter, dated yesterday, is the start of a campaign to internationalise the issue of the antenna, according to Green party member Roxane Coudounaris.

    "Its part of our plan to internationalise the process and this is going to include actions in the UK," she told the Cyprus Mail. "We are just at the beginning of our attempt and we already have the support of European greens."

    Last month, protests over the antenna came to a head when Perdikis and DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis were arrested during violent protests at Akrotiri as work began to clear the disputed site.

    Perdikis told the Guardian on Wednesday that after the Queen, Prime Minster Tony Blair would receive similar words of protest and that demonstrations would be held outside Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons.

    In his letter, Perdikis told the Queen that an agreement had been reached between the Cyprus government and the British bases that no work would begin without first establishing whether the antenna would pose a threat to human health and wildlife. However, it adds that the bases prematurely announced their intention to start work on the site to prepare for the installation of the antenna.

    "We are aware that Cyprus receives strong criticism abroad for not enforcing the law and ratified conventions to prevent the slaughtering of migrating birds during spring shooting," Perdikis said in his letter, adding that because his party was working so hard to have these laws enforced in Cyprus, it could not sit back and allow the bases to violate the same conventions.

    "This is the point we are trying to make," Coudounaris said. "Because we are receiving such bad press abroad because we are not doing enough to enforce the law to safeguard the interests of the birds protected by international conventions, we can't on the one hand be expending all our efforts to enforce international conventions and on the other hand be sitting back and accepting when other people are not respecting ratified conventions."

    She said the bases should not have started work on the site without first waiting for the results of the assessment report. By doing so, she said, they were assuming the report would give them the go-ahead.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need said yesterday: "Our position in very clear. The conditions and circumstances are right to continue with what we are doing and people are welcome to write to whomever they wish."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] 'Long way to go' before Akamas is protected

    By Alex Mita

    THE GREEN party said yesterday there was still a long way to go before the environmentally sensitive Akamas peninsula was effectively protected, despite a Cabinet decision to place certain key areas under conservation.

    Earlier this year, the cabinet agreed to protect three specific areas in the Akamas - Lara, Toxeftra and Fontana Amorosa - but said it would allow "mild and controlled" development in other parts of the peninsula.

    The decision follows through and expands on earlier Cabinet decisions to allow 'mild and controlled' development in the region, which ministers approved in 2000.

    In a news release yesterday, deputy George Perdikis said the decision had its advantages and many disadvantages and noted the many issues left unanswered could lead to negative developments.

    Overall, the Greens were happy with the decision to stop development in highly sensitive areas like Lara, Toxeftra and Fontana Amorosa, and with the government's decision to exchange forest land belonging to private landowners with state land in a different area or compensate owners in cash.

    Private landowners, particularly big interests such as the Paphos Bishopric and Carlsberg magnate Photos Photiades, are among those who own property in the designated areas and have been pushing for development.

    The Greens were also happy with a Cabinet decision to freeze new 'safari' licences to Akamas and to review all existing licences, which involve using forest tracks.

    Akamas will also be out of bounds to the Cyprus Rally and a sum of 50,000 was also approved to clean up the forest areas. The government is also preparing a reforestation programme and has pledged to control overgrazing.

    But in the news release, the deputy was critical of the Cabinet for not putting a control on the designated development areas like that around the Anassa hotel.

    "Will the peninsula be the back garden of luxury hotels?" the news release read.

    The Greens also complained that the Inia-Lara tourist area was undefined, and that no boundaries had been placed around the area. The Greens noted the absence of a managerial framework for decision-taking.

    The issue of mild development in the areas was not clarified, according to the news release, and neither was the question of whether the government would undertake the removal of unexploded shells in the British Bases firing range area.

    The Greens added that the lack of clarification in the cabinet's decision would lead to misinterpretations that would cause further delays.

    "The Greens will try, within the framework of a social dialogue and documentation, to contribute towards a viable and permanent development of the area that would benefit the environment," the news release read.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Opposition journalists jailed in the north

    THE editor and a journalist of a leading opposition newspaper in the north were yesterday jailed for six months for defaming Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Sener Levent, editor of Afrika - renamed from Avrupa after an earlier court decision shut the paper down - and reporter Memduh Oner were sentenced to six months in prison for "publishing an article on which carried the risk of harming the presidential authority".

    The 'court' said the two defendants would have to pay a further five billion Turkish lira ($30,000) if they "commit the same offence afresh".

    Around 400 libel cases are pending before the 'courts' against Levent and other Turkish Cypriot journalists.

    On Wednesday, Levent and Oner had been found guilty of libel against Denktash, the Turkish army and Turkey, in an article entitled "Who is the number one traitor?"

    The article appeared in Avrupa on July 29, 1999. The paper has repeatedly come under physical attack and raids by the authorities and was eventually shut down by a court decision. In order to continue publication, Avrupa (Europe) renamed itself Afrika (Africa).

    Last week, the Turkish parliament voted to scrap laws making it illegal to criticise the army as part of an EU inspired reform package.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Nicosia radio emissions well over allowed limits

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    LOCAL radio stations in Nicosia are transmitting radio waves at levels way above the allowed limits, Phileleftheros reported yesterday.

    According to the report, at least four local radio stations are transmitting at between 500 and 1,300 watts, when the limit for stations in residential areas is 50 watt.

    Communications Ministry official Stelios Chimonas yesterday confirmed that current legislation only allowed for 50-watt transmissions in urban areas. But he maintained that the issue of Nicosia radio stations was complicated because the Cabinet had issued temporary licences at a time when the limit was much higher.

    Chimonas added that the Broadcasting Authority had demanded that all local stations relocate to a central transmission site near the shooting range outside Latsia. The scheme to move stations out of the city has already been implemented in Limassol and Paphos, where most stations transmit from a central site, keeping electromagnetic fields at a distance from residential areas.

    Chimonas insisted that studies measuring transmission levels were made regularly, but added that emissions from mobile phones posed more of a threat than radio stations, given their greater proximity to individuals.

    Nuclear specialist Dr. Sophocles Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mail that the problem existed because local stations tried to cover large areas with just one antenna, whereas larger stations had sub-stations set up, which allowed them to adjust their radio waves.

    "The problem is not so much how many watts stations emit but how strong the electromagnetic field they produce is and how close the residential areas are. This can better be quantified using the international measurement 'volts per metre'," said Sophocleous.

    He referred to a recent epidemiological study in Rome, which concluded that high-power radio stations ran by the Vatican emitted volts per metre much higher than the legislated limit, thereby doubling the likelihood of childhood leukaemia in a six kilometre radius.

    According to Phileleftheros, the Communications Ministry is holding back suitability certificates for radio stations until they comply with the conditions of their operating licence, which includes moving their antennas to a central transmission site. Without this certificate, the operating licence is ineffective. The report stated that the Broadcasting Authority would implement existing legislation to shut down stations that failed to comply.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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