By Constantinos Psillides
PUBLIC sector workers who are employed on a shift system protested against wage cuts outside parliament on Thursday, warning that if the plenum approved the cuts they would go on strike.
The workers (nurses, civil aviation workers, electricity technicians and others) were protesting a proposed 50 per cent cut in shift allowances, included in the 2014 budget.
The budget is up for a vote in the house next week, during a two day session.
In a resolution given to the MPs, the public sector workers described the proposed system of shift allowance as “uneven” and “unfair”.
“As employees under a shift system, we work 24-four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. That alone shows that we are working more than other workers in the public sector. We are employed in vital areas, such as power stations, ports, police stations, hospitals and telecommunications. Shift allowances is the minimum compensation for the impact these jobs have on our health and on our social life”.
In his statement to the press, the head of Cyprus association of independent unions Grigoris Katselis said that his fellow workers are doing everything they can so every other citizen can enjoy “their holiday, their safety and their prosperity”.
“These employees cannot be asked to shoulder that burden and on top of that have their salaries slashed the same as every other public sector worker,” he said.
Nurses’ union head Prodromos Argyridis said that they had been promised repeatedly by MPs that shift allowance cuts would be voted down; adding that by Friday the union was expecting a new proposal by the finance ministry.
“If we still don’t get an answer, on Monday we are having a meeting and going on strike cannot be excluded. There is no more time left. We cannot wait any longer.”
Civil aviation union representative Giorgos Kseros talked about two kinds of workers in the public sector. “We agreed on a six-day working week to reduce the compensation cost and now we are called upon to pay off other peoples debts. Not being compensated for working shifts is unacceptable,” said Kseros.
MPs from different parties met with the protesters and expressed their support.