Day 37: Bus Y: The Capital of Cyprus
31 May 2018
The Cyprus bus moved on to Nicosia, for a packed day meeting the ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Cyprus Workers Confederation (SEK), and academics at the University of Nicosia, before meeting the public.
We had a frank discussion with the Director of the Ministry, a political advisor and a department head on the implementation of the new minimum income system. It began in 2014 in Cyprus, with 29,000 families benefiting today. Now they are evaluating for the 2nd time with 2017 survey data – first results they see is a steep decline in material deprivation of people here. The Director said “We are ‘exostrafes’ (open to ideas), to use a Greek word”, and asked the representatives of EMIN for new tools that could be used.
Andreas Matsas, Secretary General of SEK Trade Union, and Ambassador of EMIN Cyprus, was very supportive. He wants EMIN to help keep wages higher, pointing out that the financial crisis reduced wages yet profits rose.. “It’s funny that MHN (MIN) in Greek means DO NOT, and we want to eliminate the DO NOT”. We are very grateful to SEK for lodging us in their union apartments on this trip.
The Vice-Chancellor Konstantinos Fellas of the University of Nicosia is also EMIN CY ambassador. He said they were prepared to set up a minimum income team to work on starting a dialogue – as this is what we are working on successfully now, provided that they can include recipients in their research team. We fully support this!!
Maria, one of EMIN Cyprus’ volunteers and receiver of minimum income, runs a growing Facebook group of 4000 recipients to exchange and ask questions, and she passionately offers advice and provides opportunities to voice concerns.
We set up our stand by a beautiful central church well-visited by pedestrians – the roads are too narrow here for the bus – and more views were captured on film there. Ministry workers visited us again, and Cyprus TV ran a spot on the bus and where it will visit the following day! We welcomed the cyclists from their ride through a rare bit of rain, and then could enjoy a show of folk-dancing.