The deal struck by the government with the state nurses’ union Pasyno this week may be perceived by some as a step towards reform in the public health sector, but it was premature in that the Anastasiades administration has already given up precious concessions, with the state doctors now lingering in the shadows, waiting to put forth their own demands.
“And when will it all end?” the employers’ federation OEV rightly warned, saying that the pay rises linked to the upscaling of the public nurses will very soon become unbearable for the state budget. Furthermore, higher contributions on employers and private sector employees, in order to finance this programme, will be a new burden on taxpayers, if further tax hikes are not scheduled for after the February 2018 presidential elections.
The deal announced on Tuesday calls for the recognition of the nurses’ university degrees and their paycheque boosted to start from the A8 level as early as 2019, while those who did not rush to get university degrees will be considered ‘carers’.
The problem was that the government was too quick to submit to this deal, as this should have been conditional to reform and autonomy of state hospitals as part of the GESY national health service. The opposite has happened and there is no guarantee that the nurses (and doctors to follow) will at all work towards implementing GESY.
The doctors have already let it be known that they are aiming for upscaling to A12-14 and even A16 for senior physicians, the same level as Directors General of the ministries. At this rate, some doctors may even be paid more than the President.
OEV warned that a year ago the government had “the return to unaccountable practices of the past will lead to a new economic nightmare and the second bankruptcy will be just like the previous one.”
No wonder rating agencies are still cautious to raise any of the sovereign levels of Cyprus, as the government has been very often deviating from its prudent policies of the past and succumbing to voter pressure. And who said that these civil servants would re-elect the present administration in the first place?
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE