By Maria Gregoriou
ALL GOVERNMENT workers affected by wage cuts of 50 per cent on extra pay for working night shifts, weekends and national holidays are meeting today to discuss how they should react.
The finance ministry decided on Monday to decrease extra pay after rejecting an earlier option of abolishing it completely. These cuts are part of package for the government to stay within the 2014 state budget estimates, voted on by parliament on last Friday.
If these cuts are voted on by parliament, they will go into effect on January 2014.
Nurses will be particularly hard hit, and president of the nurse’s union, Prodromos Argyrides, said on Monday the union may have to “extreme measures”.
“What the finance ministry is suggesting is not a cut in allowance. It is a slaughter and financial destruction for some colleagues,” Argyrides said.
He pointed out that cuts in the allowance for working night shifts, weekends and national holidays was cut by 15 per cent in January.
“We accepted these cuts but it seems we are expected to accept new cuts,” Argyrides said.
He gave the example of night shift work for government nurses. Originally they received an extra 28 per cent on their wages, so if they received, for example €100 a day, they would receive €128 for working a night shift. This went down to 24 per cent and now the ministry wants to decrease this to 20 per cent, Argirides said.
The Panyprian Union of Government Doctors (PASYKI) said yesterday it was prepared to show understanding in these difficult times and was ready to accept cuts to allowances, but urged these been done fairly.
“The ministry must be prepared to make hospitals more competitive if they want to remain as hospitals, in the sense of a hospital as we know it today,” president of PASYKI Maro Kontou said.
The union has made suggestions on how money can be saved such as, outsourcing certain jobs which are currently done in-house.
“People who work seven days a week have to have some kind of motivation, otherwise they will all ask to work five days a week, from Monday to Friday,” Kontou said. “Many doctors have already asked to be transferred to this kind of a time-table.”
House finance committee chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos said on Monday the committee is ready to listen to suggestions.
“I am sure that these cuts may not be so productive, so we will listen to suggestions but we are all also obliged to know and understand the context in which these matters are being discussed,” Papadopoulos said, referring to the need to save on the state budget.
Nurses, police officers and doctors have to understand that their jobs exist on a 24 hour basis and they must also “understand that they have to be at their posts at times when others may not be working,” Papadopoulos added.