By Elias Hazou
TRADE unions of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) on Thursday said they were suspending industrial action as a goodwill gesture, but warned the government not to sneak in new legislation in the meantime impacting their organisation.
“Acknowledging the fact we are now in the tourist season, which is important to the country’s economy, we have… decided to suspend our measures,” the four main EAC unions said in a statement.
“In the interim, we urge all the competent government agencies to… avoid taking any action that might spark confrontation,” they added.
EAC employees have for weeks been enforcing a work to rule, refusing to work overtime in protest at a government bill governing the establishment and running of public organisations and state-owned enterprises.
The unions suspect the bill is designed to dissolve and sell the EAC, despite government assurances that the state power company is exempt from the legislation.
Through the mediation of the House Commerce committee, the unions have now apparently received assurances that the government will not further tinker with the bill during the otherwise ‘dud’ months of July and August.
They have also been assured that the government will hold off any action on another bill, which aims to change the status of the Transmission System Operator (TSO).
Unions claim the bill, under the guise of rendering the TSO fully independent, will essentially create a new authority to take over some of the EAC’s assets, thus neutralising the body and adding to electricity bills.
The unions want the government to scrap new rules governing the energy market, currently being written up by the TSO.
The government plans to switch to a ‘competitive electricity market’ by mid-2016.
Meanwhile, the EAC said it would resume its normal collection policy on electricity bills for household consumers. While its work to rule was in place, the utility had enforced an interim policy of not cutting power off to consumers who were late on their bills. This has now been rescinded.