Cyprus Mail

Ministerial decree settles co-op pay dispute

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades

The finance minister yesterday issued a decree that sets the pay cuts in the co-op sector, thus settling a dispute with the bank workers union ETYK, which disagreed with the scale of the reductions.

Talks between ETYK and the Central Co-operative Bank (CCB) over scale of salary cuts of its 300 members broke down, with the union accusing the CCB of blackmailing its members.

The matter was resolved by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades who issued a decree setting the cuts at the same level that was agreed with other unions.

“Because there has been no agreement with ETYK regarding the minimum wage cut of 15 per cent, it was necessary to solve the problem in another way, in the framework that has already been agreed,” as part of the island’s bailout, CCB board chairman Nicolas Hadjiyiannis said.

The decree, he said, included the terms agreed with the employees of the broader cooperative banking sector, totaling 2,700, who are represented by trade unions SEK, PEO and PASYDY.

“After this, we can proceed immediately with the implementation of the voluntary early retirement programme, in order to give the employees the opportunity to make their choices,” he said. “The implementation of a very ambitious but necessary five-year scheme for the rationalisation of expenditure, totaling €300 million, is starting.”

Reduction of expenditure will be achieved through the minimum 15 per cent cut in payroll, from savings stemming from the early retirement programme in the medium-term, and generous cuts in operational expenses, he said.

ETYK had threatened with industrial action and its reaction remains to be seen.

The CCB official said there aim was not to fight with the unions.

“There is a common interest for the employees and the shareholders, and for everyone, and I do not see any substantive issues that divide us and ETYK, or the other trade unions, with which we have a sincere cooperation,” he said.

Following a deal clinched recently, workers at cooperative credit institutions took a 3.0 per cent cut on salaries across the board.

Their unions also agreed to additional tiered salary cuts ranging from 8.0 per cent to 25 per cent.

The agreements did not apply to employees of the CCB who are all members of ETYK, with which the CCB board had been holding separate talks.

After negotiations between the CCB and ETYK broke down last week, the former threatened to begin layoffs unilaterally.

The CCB brass said it would ask each of the 300 employees to respond whether they individually accepted either the proposed pay cuts or a redundancy scheme sidelining ETYK.

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