The 22 workers of the Episkopi desalination plant went on Monday on an indefinite strike after their requests for a collective agreement fell they said on deaf ears.
The workers, who are demanding from their employers, Limassol Water Co Ltd, a collective agreement to safeguard their rights, are guarding the premises of the plant round-the-clock to prevent anyone from entering.
SEK union’s representative Sophocles Sophocleous told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the employees, who work 12-hour shifts on a 24-hour basis seven days per week, had been warning the company of strike action since August 29 but they were ignored.
He added that they submitted the request for a collective agreement ten months ago. “We have shown enough patience, we had several meetings with the company management and the labour ministry, but the company refuses to apply the basics an employee needs and which in other industries have been regulated through legislation,” he said.
A representative of the PEO union, Andreas Thoma, said that a proposal was submitted by the labour ministry’s mediation service but was deemed “unacceptable”.
Although the desalination unit is “vital for Limassol’s water needs, workers have their conscience clear as they exhausted every margin and patience,” Thoma said.
He added that workers are determined to continue the strike until the employing side “responds positively”.
The water development department told the CNA that the strike is not expected to affect Limassol’s water supply right away as there are alternative sources that can cover the town’s water needs. The unit can produce up to 40,000 cubic metres of water daily.
The company running the desalination plant, Limassol Water Co Ltd said in an announcement that the strike is “arbitrary and violates the code of industrial relations”.
It also threatens the water supply of the wider Limassol area, the company said.
“Completely ignoring the impact on society, the unions declared a strike when it was them that rejected the mediation proposal of the labour ministry,” the announcement said.
It added that the head of the ministry’s labour relations department had called on the unions to respect the code of industrial relations.