Cypriot bank workers protest over pensions threat

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Cypriot bank workers protest over pensions threat

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Bank workers in Cyprus took to the streets in protest over concerns for their pensions.

Public shock at last month’s collapse of Popular Bank, the second-biggest lender in return for a bailout, has turned to widespread anger.

Under the terms of the package, depositors holding accounts with over 100,000 euros have to bear part of the cost. The fear is that this could also include pensions.

Marios Koullouros, a long-serving bank employee joined the protest and told euronews, “Everybody here stands to lose a lot of money, the money you worked for your whole life. I’ve been working at Laiki Bank for 27 years. And I think it is a pity to lose everything”.

Demonstrators also fear job losses after Popular Bank was wound down and its assets split into one good bank and another containing toxic assets.

An inquiry has now begun into how the collapse occurred, but the results won’t emerge for weeks, adding to anxiety for the country’s future.

At a press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi sought to give reassurances that Cyprus would not be made an example of. “Cyprus is no template, Cyprus is no turning point in the euro policy”.

But for the ordinary man on the street, political rhetoric holds little solace. Banks reopened last week, but withdrawals are limited to 300 euros per day to avoid a bank run from panicked residents.