By Peter Stevenson
LOCAL catering and cleaning services employed by the UN are continuing their strike after it emerged they could possibly be left jobless from September 1.
The strike began on Tuesday after a compromise was not found with the new company responsible for the employment of catering and cleaning staff.
A meeting was held yesterday at the labour ministry between the new company, Supreme, trade unions PEO and SEK and ministry representatives.
Strikers are picketing at the Ledra Palace, the old Nicosia airport and Athienou.
General-secretary for trade union PEO’s SYXKA branch Lefteris Georgiades warned the entrances could be blocked by strikers.
“For an organisation that has as its main directives to protect human rights they are dealing with these employees purely financially which is a big surprise to us,” he said.
The UN has always outsourced its catering and cleaning services to local companies but every time a new company has taken responsibility they have always agreed to continue hiring the existing personnel which currently stands at around 60, Georgiades added.
“The new company does not accept the existence of the previous collective agreements. It informed the staff that if they wanted to re-apply for their positions they would be considered but that they would all be given personal contracts instead of collective agreements,” he added.
The unions suggested that the collective agreements continue to apply but to renegotiate their terms by possibly reducing wages or other operating costs, a suggestion that was rejected by Supreme.
“We hold the UN responsible for this turn of events as the collective agreements were completely removed from the new contract which was signed with Supreme without informing the employees or the trade unions,” Georgiades said.
The employees have no other option but to continue striking in an effort to pursue their rights with strike action continuing indefinitely, he added.