Cyprus Mail

Co-op Central Bank staff stage one-hour strike

Some 300 employees at the Co-operative Central Bank (CCB) went on a one-hour ‘warning’ strike at 1:30 pm on Tuesday to protest a 15 per cent pay cut imposed by the finance ministry.
Those striking are members of bank employees’ union ETYK, which had been in prolonged talks with the CCB over salary and benefit cuts already agreed by SEK, PEO and PASYDY unions, who represent the rest of Co-op employees – roughly 2.700.
Following deadlock, the dispute was referred to the labour ministry’s mediation service to resolve, which urged the two sides to return to the table for further negotiations.
Growing increasingly impatient, the CCB management attempted to bypass the union and present individual union members with the option of accepting the cuts or facing redundancy.
In a general assembly convened to decide a response, ETYK members unanimously authorised the union’s leadership to proceed with “dynamic measures” requesting that “all its members be involved” – meaning bank employees at commercial banks too.
Slashing payroll cost was part of the effort to restructure the co-ops, a necessary precondition of the bailout through a €1.5 billion capital injection, due to be paid out at the end of March.
A comprehensive restructuring plan was due to be submitted to the EU Competition Commission for approval on January 31.
Pressed for time, finance minister Harris Georgiades settled the dispute two days short of the deadline by issuing a ministerial decree imposing the same pay cuts applied to non-ETYK Co-op employees, causing the union to deem the ploy “blackmail”.
Deeming the decree “unacceptable, unfair and dictatorial”, ETYK instructed its members at the CCB to hold a one-hour strike on Tuesday.
“We demand the immediate revocation of the unfair, improper and undemocratic decree issued against our CCB colleagues, which we have already instructed our legal team to initiate annulment procedures,” ETYK said in a statement, calling for the resumption of “healthy and constructive” negotiations.
ETYK’s Christos Panayides said that if Tuesday’s strike does not bear fruit, the union considers all future options to be on the table.
“This is a warning against the government’s decision. Our future action will depend on developments,” he said.
Holding the strike at 1:30pm had no impact on the public as this is the customer service is cut off in retail banks.

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