The country cannot afford strikes especially when they are not justified, Communications, Works and Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said on Friday, after meeting the Limassol licensed porters who downed tools earlier in the week protesting the government’s refusal to allow more people in the profession.
After a three-day strike, the porters agreed to go back to work on Friday, while the porters’ association was invited to the ministry to discuss their grievances.
During the strike up to 2,000 containers had piled up at the port, and after pressure, porters had agreed to only load and unload sensitive cargo like fresh and frozen foodstuff.
“Work differences are being resolved at the negotiations table and not with strikes,” Demetriades said.
The bone of contention between the government and the porters was however, the compensation offered in exchange of their licences, since by the end of the year the port’s services are to be privatised.
The head of the Limassol porters’ association Nicos Constantinou had said members had debts accumulated from the purchase of the machinery used for loading and unloading cargo and that the government’s decision to recall their licences was putting them out of business.
“Next week there will be a new meeting for the final settlement of the issue, so that the government can smoothly proceed with the procurement process for the commercial activities of the Limassol port, a development which will add significant economic value to our country,” Demetriades said.
The strike angered both the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) and the Chamber of Commerce (KEVE) arguing that it would cause a huge blow in the economy.