By Constantinos Psillides
Dockworkers announced on Friday that they were ending their strike and lifting the overtime ban.
The workers met with officials from the finance and transport ministries to discuss their demands. Both sides reaffirmed their deal to meet next week to start a round of negotiations regarding their demands for a overtime increases on weekdays at a ratio of 1:1.3 and on weekends and holidays 1:1.75 from the previous 1:1 on weekdays and 1:1.3 on weekends.
The dockworkers refused to work overtime since February 15, finishing all loading and unloading services at 1.30pm.
Any ship arriving at port after that time could not depart, resulting in hundreds of thousands in lost income for shipping companies and import-export companies, according to Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry general secretary Marios Tsiakkis and Shipping Association general manager Lefteris Kouzapas.
The dockworkers overtime ban was lifted on Wednesday after representatives of the workers union agreed with finance ministry officials to begin a new around of negotiations.
Although an agreement was reached, the port authority workers union backed down and declared a one-day strike for Thursday, joining workers from other semi-governmental organizations, EAC and CyTA, to protest the proposed privatisation plan.
The union, despite the previous deal, announced that dockworkers would reinstate the overtime ban and refuse to service ships that came in over the three-day weekend.
However on Friday they decided (with 30 votes in favour and three abstentions) that they would overrule the union’s decision and give ministry officials one week to come up with a counter-proposal.
The government was elated after the dockworkers decision. Transport Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos tweeted that “despite interventions, workers at the port authority decided to lift the ban. Cypriot ports are open”.
The decision to keep the overtime ban in place over the weekend was never very popular among dockworkers, with SEK union voicing its disagreement from the start.