By George Psyllides
CYPRUS Airways pilots decided yesterday to take legal action against the airline’s decision to reduce its contribution to the workers’ provident fund, an agreement made with other unions but not with them.
The union, PASYPI, also demanded full implementation of a restructuring plan, accusing the company of keeping excess staff on the payroll despite a reduction in the fleet and number of flights.
Last month’s deal will see the airline’s management reduce its provident fund contribution to 1.0 per cent, from 8.0 per cent, a move that will save it some €4m over the 15-month duration of the agreement.
The pilots condemned the ‘unilateral and illegal’ decision, which they said served to cover the losses to the provident fund of the rest of the staff, which collapsed due to mismanagement.
“If the state or the (political) parties want to keep more staff or to supplement the rest of the staff’s fund, then the state and the parties should pay for it,” said PASYPI chairman Petros Shiouppouris. “Pilots cannot accept further cuts.”
Pilots have a separate provident fund from the rest of the personnel.
It is understood that their fund has a €20m hole in it, which the company is trying to plug by selling assets.
PASYPI’s general assembly decided that each member will file a lawsuit against the people who decided to cut the contribution to the fund. But they ruled out any strike measures.
The union said implementation of the restructuring plan has stalled in the past three months and the company continued to employee excess staff.
Shiouppouris said Cyprus Airways had to get rid of its catering and engineering departments and “failed directors” had to be replaced by individuals who had experience and knowhow of the airline industry.
He said political parties continued to meddle in the airline, which currently counted some 100 staff per aircraft, instead of 60 to 65.
The airline has shed some 430 staff out of around 1,040 and got rid of four aircraft.
It now operates six aircraft, five of which are leased.
The European Commission recently expressed doubt that the airline’s restructuring plan could ensure its long-term viability, as it started reviewing the scheme because of state-aid limitations.
“The commission has doubts whether the restructuring plan is suitable to ensure Cyprus Airways’ long-term viability and whether the airline is capable of withstanding likely challenges in the air transport market during the next years,” the Commission said.