By George Psyllides
Co-operative bank authorities appeared optimistic on Friday that international lenders would approve a restructuring plan that also involved shedding some 700 jobs through early retirement.
The co-operative movement is currently undergoing what is perhaps the biggest overhaul in its history, which will also see it coming under the ownership of the state.
As part of the island’s €10 billion international bailout, co-ops will receive €1.5 billion in taxpayer’s money.
The sector will also be reduced in size through mergers and will come under the supervision of the Central Bank.
Constantinos Lyras, supervision and development registrar, said international lenders had been given all the information on the progress of the program and the restructuring plan.
Lyras said the lenders decided to incorporate the early retirement scheme to the restructuring plan, which is currently in progress.
The scheme aims to shed around 700 staff out of a total of 3,000 as Cyprus’ 93 co-operatives merge into 18.
The fourth of 17 mergers is expected to be completed this weekend, Lyras said.
Some 25 per cent of the 410 branches are expected to go.
The retirement scheme primarily aimed at employees over the age of 45 with at least 15 years of service.
Lyras said compensation would be good.
“Compensation must be enticing to be successful,” Lyras said, adding his conviction that lenders will not have any problem approving the scheme.
“I think that everything has almost been agreed,” he said.