Cyprus Mail

Massive delays caused by port overtime ban

By Andria Kades

Port workers refusing to do overtime work is creating financial repercussions and serious delays in servicing ships at Limassol ports, port head George Pouros said on Tuesday.

“All ships are affected. There’s massive delays, less items are loaded and some ships bring less things to unload,” he said.

According to SIDIKEK PEO union member George Epaminondas “there are delays affecting about 20 to 25 per cent of the ships.”

In collaboration with other involved unions – DEOK, SYALK and SYPALK – they will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether to go ahead with a 24 hour strike scheduled for Friday after the Cyprus Ports Authority has told them they will be presented with a timeline and a future plan on July 20.

Pouros said he could understand employees concerns in wanting to secure their jobs but made no comments in regards to the union actions.

“They are told they will be safeguarded but that’s it. It’s just words and they want something concrete.”

Reacting to a statement issued by the Cyprus Shipping Agents on Monday that called the strike measures “unacceptable and inexcusable”, SYPALK general secretary Evgenios Zinonas called them hypocrites saying they were trying to mislead the media, public opinion and traders using untruths.

“How responsible are you when you accuse ‘a handful of employees’ that are shouting and asking for a pilot boar for seven years and instead are forced to work, because of their decency and professional conscience against all state and European safety rules?”

Zinonas said port employees are forced to take on two or three jobs because of understaffing and questioned whether the interests of the Cyprus Shipping Agents lied with the economy of the country or their own interests.

He called on them to take an active role in smoothing out tensions and differences rather than making this worse between the Ports Authority and the unions if they really care about the ongoing situations at the Limassol port.

Earlier this month, a supplementary item of €41.1m was added to the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) 2015 budget, covering payouts related to the pending privatisation of the ports at Limassol and Larnaca.

Broken down, €31.1 million will go towards buying back the licences issued to 116 porters, plus €10 million for the voluntary retirement of CPA staff who wish to exit.

Porters union representative Demetris Patsalos however said that while porters wish to bid for the services of navigation and towing, they have been asked to leave their jobs first.

A number of employees are expected to be made redundant once the ports’ commercial operations are handed over to private operators.

The privatisation of commercial operations at the two ports is an obligation stemming from the bailout deal between Cyprus and international creditors.

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