Civil servant stuns Cyprus with ‘overpaid, underworked’ protest

March 3, 2016 6:22 pm
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Civil servants hold placards and blow bullhorns as they walk off their job in Nicosia in 2011 protesting the government's economic austerity measures.EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU
Civil servants hold placards and blow bullhorns as they walk off their job in Nicosia in 2011 protesting the government’s economic austerity measures.EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU

, NICOSIA, Cyprus, Mar 3 – A civil servant in bailed-out Cyprus has done the unthinkable: he has written to the president to complain about being handsomely paid to do nothing for the past year.

Marios Droushiotis revealed he has yet to do a single day’s work since he was made “point of single contact” at the energy, commerce and tourism ministry in February 2015.

Overview
  • Civil servants on his pay scale earn around 5,000 euros ($5,400) a month, compared to average gross monthly earnings in the small EU member state of just over 1,500 euros in the third quarter of 2015.
  • With the letter stirring shock on social media and in local coffee shops, the commerce ministry has defended its corner, accusing Droushiotis of "unjustly slandering public officials".

Not a single file had crossed his desk and he had not been assigned any work by superiors.

“I find it unacceptable that an employee on a pay scale of A13+2 is obliged into inertia,” the civil servant wrote in a letter to the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades  first published on the website of leading daily Phileleftheros.

“In my opinion the state would have made savings if I was told to stay at home and my salary was sent to me. The state would also save the costs of heating and lighting my office.”

Civil servants on his pay scale earn around 5,000 euros ($5,400) a month, compared to average gross monthly earnings in the small EU member state of just over 1,500 euros in the third quarter of 2015.

Contacted by AFP on Thursday, Droushiotis declined to comment further.

With the economy now back on track and Anastasiades championing a reform agenda to make the Mediterranean holiday island’s bloated and unwieldy public sector more efficient, the government is expected to exit the bailout programme within weeks.

“I’m sure your vision of upgrading public service is very different to this,” Droushiotis said in the letter to the president.

With the letter stirring shock on social media and in local coffee shops, the commerce ministry has defended its corner, accusing Droushiotis of “unjustly slandering public officials”.

His new post was key to attracting foreign investors and cutting red tape, it said in a statement. The argument that “moving Mr Droushiotis to this post is a waste of money just does not stand up.”

The public widely regards civil servants in Cyprus, which has endured three years of austerity and high unemployment since the March 2013 international bailout, as over-privileged, overpaid and work shy.

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