By Angelos Anastasiou
THE entire executive board of the Kyperounta co-operative credit institution (CCI), comprising its five members and the chairman have been taken into custody until Monday for ignoring a court order deeming the dismissal of the co-op secretary as wrongful.
The secretary was fired by the CCI management in May 2013 for “disciplinary offences”, but his dismissal was not endorsed by the Co-operatives Registrar as it was found to be “unwarranted.”
Subsequently, the secretary resorted to the courts to appeal the decision, seeking to either be reinstated or compensated for wrongful dismissal.
The court issued an interim ruling in September 2013 ordering his reinstatement until the case was decided.
However, the order was never enforced by the co-op’s management, prompting the secretary to bring new proceedings, resulting in Thursday’s decision to incarcerate the entire board for disobeying the court’s initial order. They will be sentenced on Monday.
The decision creates serious concerns over the progress of consolidating and restructuring the co-ops s, which is a prerequisite to the troika’s approving a €1.5 billion recapitalisation injection from the €10 billion bailout loan to Cyprus.
The consolidation plan calls for the merging of several CCIs into larger regional entities and requires the Kyperounta co-op to absorb six others from the area, creating a centralised Troodos branch.
However, the absorption of the co-ops, although ratified by the executive board, has not been approved by the Co-operatives Registrar because it does not bear the signature of the secretary – who was not yet reinstated at the time of ratification, in November 2013 – as required by law, putting the entire process at risk.
In order to overcome the legal issues and keep the troika-mandated timeframes for completion of the process, the finance ministry has submitted a bill – not yet voted into law by the House – that enables consolidation to be decided on without requiring the secretary’s signature.
Commenting on the bill, House Finance committee chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos said the mergers will continue and be completed as scheduled regardless of “personal differences or labour disputes.”
“Whether an employee in Kyperounta or elsewhere is right or not with regard to his complaints and civil suits he may have filed is irrelevant to the consolidation process and does not concern the House”, he said, adding that “these are personal issues that will be decided in court and cannot possibly be placed higher than the public interest.”