By Maria Gregoriou
NURSES yesterday expressed their dissatisfaction with a finance ministry proposal to abolish allowances for those working in state hospitals during afternoons, Sundays and on public holidays.
The proposal to bring to an end the extra pay given to all public professionals for working outside standard working hours was brought to light on Monday during a meeting between civil servants union PASYDY and the finance ministry.
“We are waiting for a second meeting to see what the final outcome will be. If it is negative then we will ask the nurses to vote on a strike,” nurses union president Prodromos Argyrides said.
The union has already started to inform nurses about these possible changes. Argyrides has already visited three hospitals and spoken to the nurses.
He plans to visit the public hospitals in Paphos and Limassol today.
“Because of the large amount of concern we have seen due to emails, telephone conversations and on facebook, we decided to visit the hospitals in person and talk directly to the nurses,” Argyrides explained.
The ministry has asked PASYDY to write down all their suggestions and ideas on what the union can do to avoid these measures being made.
“The union is only asking to be heard. We would like to have a dialogue with the ministry and for it to consider our side while making their decisions,” Argyrides said.
These suggestions will most probably be ready by today.
He stressed that the union is not outright saying that they will not accept this decision, it only wants the chance to help find a solution to the problem.
Allowances for shift works were put in place in 1989 after a 17 day strike.
Nurses have already accepted a 30 per cent cut on their wages and a 15 per cent cut on the amount they receive for extra work on afternoons, Sundays and national holidays.
“The economic crisis triggered these cuts and now the government wants to totally eliminate the pay nurses get while working at times when the rest of us are at home resting with our families,” Argyrides said.
Cuts to allowances for working afternoons can be understood, Argyrides said, as all public employees now work during this time.
As of September 2, the new working hours for the public service came into effect as part of the measures agreed in the memorandum of understanding. Employees can choose to go to work from 8am to 3.30pm or from 9am to 4.30pm.
Argyrides said that the nurses’ profession is unlike any other. A nurse may work three Sundays a month, depending on how many patients are in hospital and the work load.
“Nurses work on rotation so a nurse may be off on Friday and work on Sunday but this is not a one off situation, it is often and frequent,” he said.
Nurses get double pay for working afternoons, Sundays and holidays.