By Maria Gregoriou
WORKERS at the Kofinou slaughterhouse, in the Larnaca district, who have not been paid for two months, began a 48-hour strike yesterday on news that the facility was to be shut down.
The 56 workers began their protest at 8am outside the presidential palace. They were holding placards with slogans such as: ‘The government should take on their responsibilities,’ ‘We have not been paid for two months,’ and ‘Our struggle is righteous.’
According to the slaughterhouse deputy general manager, Giorgos Gavriel, the slaughterhouse has been in financial trouble for some time.
“The workers are fighting for their rights to a compensation package,” he said.
But Interior Minister, Socrates Hasikos Hasikos said the slaughterhouse was no longer able to function financially.
“It is well known that it is impossible for the Kofinou slaughterhouse to keep on running because of the constant and very serious operating deficits, which have accumulated over the years,” the minister said.
He said the company was losing €3.5 million a year.
Representatives of the workers presented the director of the President’s Office with a list of their demands.
They want a commitment that they will be paid compensation, or to be transferred to other government posts as has been the practice in the past.
Deputy Secretary of trade union SEK, Savvas Koulas said the cabinet committed to this in June.
The letter handed in at the palace also said the workers had not been paid since July and it did not look like they would be paid any time soon.
“The staff is in no way liable for the tragic economic situation that the organisation finds itself in and, for many years, we have accepted reductions to our benefits, in an attempt to help the company survive,” the workers’ statement said.
“The paying of wages is clearly a matter for the Kofinou slaughterhouse board to settle, as the employees already know,” Hasikos responded.
Regarding the placement of the workers in government posts, Hasikos said the request would be put before the cabinet.
Today the workers will march on parliament.
A statement from the slaughterhouse said technicians and office workers were not participating in the strike “as they feel there are better ways to protest, without violating the code of industrial relations.”