Cyprus Mail
Business Cyprus

‘Today’s stoppage was just a warning’

By George Psyllides

AFTER causing power cuts and inconveniencing people on Friday, electricity authority (EAC) workers threatened to escalate strike measures if they did not get their way as regards privatisations.

Some power cuts were reported in the morning but striking electricity company staff agreed to increase production at 10.30am after an appeal from the board and assurances that their demands would be discussed in parliament.

By that time there was an ever-growing wave of outrage among the public, mostly expressed through the social media.

EAC chairman Giorgos Pipis apologised to consumers for the cuts but unions warned they would escalate their action under certain conditions.

EAC staff went on a 12-hour strike over the government’s intention to privatise the organisation. Workers at state telecoms company CyTA and the ports authority staged a 24-hour strike for the same reason.

CyTA also announced a three-hour strike on Monday.

“Today’s work stoppage was a warning,” said EAC union boss Andreas Panorkos. “Let us hope that decisions will be taken in parliament that will prevent any risk of strike.”

Panorkos said they had not been given the time to express their positions regarding the matter.

The strikes were called on Thursday after the cabinet approved a roadmap bill. Some ten ships were turned away as port authority workers staged their work stoppage. Passenger and military vessels were serviced.

Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos described the strike as unwarranted, inopportune, and out of place.

“To shut down our ports during a period when our people are suffering the effects of the economic crisis is wrong,” Mitsopoulos said.

A ports authority statement said it contributed millions to the state and society and it was necessary for it to remain in public hands.

A change in the regime “entails serious dangers at many levels,” the statement said

CyTA workers assembled outside the organisation’s HQ in Nicosia demanding that certain provisions were included in the privatisation bill.

They want their work and pension rights ensured, as well as participation in the dialogue.

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades reiterated that the bill did not constitute privatisations.

“This bill will not regulate or change labour issues,” he said.

Georgiades said privatisation matters will be discussed many times in the next couple of years.

Approval of the bill by parliament by the end of the month is necessary for the release of the next tranche of Cyprus’ €10 billion bailout.

According to the bailout package, Cyprus must raise €1.4bn through privatisations between 2016 and 2018.

Main opposition AKEL, which agreed to the privatisations when it was in power in 2012, said the government was to blame if Cyprus did not receive the next tranche of €236 million.

AKEL said the government should have sought to cover the 1.4bn from other sources all these months that the party had been saying it would reject the bill.


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