By Angelos Anastasiou
Larnaca port employees on Monday announced their abstention from any overtime work until Thursday, in protest of being left in the dark regarding the extension granted by the government to the Zenon consortium to come up with the capital required to carry out the project.
The extended deadline expired on Sunday, February 15, and the unions of employees at the Larnaca and Limassol ports held general meetings on Monday.
In a letter addressed jointly to the Communications minister and the chairman of the Cyprus Ports Authority, the unions informed them of the Larnaca port staff’s decision to “abstain from any overtime work, effective Monday, February 16, and until Thursday, February 19”.
“In case we are not updated on developments relating to the consultations between the government and Zenon by Thursday, the ports’ staff will hold a 24-hour warning strike,” the unions warned.
In the letter, the unions state their “strong objections and disappointment at the indifference exhibited by both the Authority and the ministry with regard to informing the unions on this matter, bearing in mind that the unions had already warned of dynamic measures in case no final decision was made upon expiry of the final extension granted to the Zenon consortium”.
Calling on the ministry and the chairman of the CPA to consider the issue as “very serious”, the unions added that they remain at their disposal “for consultations aiming at avoiding unpleasant developments”.
Zenon – consisting of the Paraskevaides Group, Iacovou Bros, Petrolina and Vouros – signed an agreement with the government in 2012 for the development of the Larnaca port and marina worth a reported €700m.
Local banks set to bankroll the project pulled back in the wake of the 2013 financial crisis and the consortium began seeking financing elsewhere for the marina component of the project.
Once completed, the new port would become the main passenger port of Cyprus able to accommodate large cruise ships and have the potential to serve commercial vessels. The project would feature parks, restaurants, recreation space, shops and other public areas.
Complicating matters, two energy companies – Noble Energy and ENI – have been granted permits to set up shore-base operations within the port, situated next to the marina, and which happens to be an integral component of the grandiose tourism development plans.