By Stefanos Evripidou
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday made it perfectly clear that it would not put up the money to pay additional compensation to the 490 staff that will be made redundant at national airline Cyprus Airways.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday there was no question of paying the additional compensation.
He made the comment after President Nicos Anastasiades met with the heads of unions SEK and PEO, Nicos Moyseos and Bambis Kyritsis respectively.
Earlier in the week, the unions had hyped up the meeting at the presidential palace, hoping that a silver lining might be found after CY chairman Antonis Antoniou went ahead with making redundant 203 staff on Monday.
Union leaders accused Antoniou of going back on his word to hold off the redundancies until after the meeting with Anastasiades.
However, Antoniou said putting off the much-needed redundancies at the ailing airline was costing the company €2m a month and could no longer be postponed.
The government had agreed with the previous CY board and unions on April 12 to pay the 490 staff members earmarked for redundancy half of the additional compensation paid in a previous redundancy package.
But after the airline did some number crunching and it transpired it doesn’t have the €20m needed to pay the additional compensation, nor the assets to sell off to find the money, the government did an about-turn, saying the deal was off.
Unions have called on the government to find the money elsewhere but cabinet ministers have warned this would violate the EU’s state aid rules, which the state is already suspected by the European Commission of doing.
Speaking after yesterday’s meeting at the Presidential Palace, Stylianides said the meeting with the union heads was scheduled long before the issue of the CY redundancies came up, noting that the three discussed a wide range of labour issues.
Asked if the government was prepared to pay some of the cost for meeting the unions’ demands on CY redundancies, he said: “There is no issue of providing additional compensation at Cyprus Airways.”
Speaking after the meeting with the president, Kyritsis said he was not confident there will be a way out of the deadlock between unions and the CY board.