06 March 2014 14:41

Students will continue to protest against the newly introduced monthly school bus fare until it is abolished, an islandwide student organisation pledged on Wednesday.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, head of the Cyprus Pupils Coordinating Committee (PSEM) Panayiotis Monoyios said students are still refusing to accept the monthly fare despite Cabinet announcing a reduction in price from €15 to €10 last month.
"We have made our position perfectly clear. Any bus fare imposed on students' school routes is unacceptable and unaffordable during this time of economic crisis."
According to Monoyios, the Ministry of Communications has still not contacted PSEM despite earlier promises of a sit-down to discuss the matter.
"We are extremely disappointed with ministry's attitude. Students feel their objections are not being taken seriously at all."
Monoyios confirmed that PSEM will be announcing further protest measures.
"If our demands are not reviewed by ministry representatives there will be further strike action and it will continue until the fare is abolished."
Outrage was also expressed by a parents' organisation yesterday after news that students are to be charged €15 for their monthly bus tickets until the April 1 despite Cabinet having already authorised the price reduction.
In a statement, the Pancyprian Coordinating Committee for the Technical Schools Parents Association said it was "shocked" when students on Tuesday bought tickets at the pre-reduction prices which they were informed will apply until the end of March.
"The Communications Minister gave the excuse that there was not enough time to print new bus tickets for March. Why could they not use the old tickets but apply the new prices?"
The committee said the authorities owe it to the public to issue the correct facts and not create the false impression that the price decrease would be immediately effective.
"Once again we are very disappointed as the authorities continue to make a mockery of the difficulties faced by students and their parents."
Speaking to the media yesterday following the complaints, Minister of Communications Tasos Mitsopoulos expressed regret that the monthly bus fair cannot be reduced further.
He added that the authorities are concerned over the struggles low-income families face and will be taking measures to support them where this is possible.
"All schools have been instructed to notify the Ministry of students with special circumstances. The Ministry will review these cases and take appropriate action."  
Primary school pupils are exempt from paying the new bus fare as are students whose families have qualified to receive state welfare benefits.
Meanwhile, employees of Limassol's bus company EMEL have postponed an indefinite strike planned to start yesterday until Friday.
According to an announcement, the strike measures over the non-payment of wages for February were put on hold after House Labour Committee MPs pledged to contact the Communications Ministry and request the immediate release of the funds.
"If the wages are not paid by Friday then we will continue with the announced strike action," warned EMEL.
 
 
 
 
 
 


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