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Forestry officials call two-hour strike over proposed staff cuts

Forestry officials will stage a two-hour strike on Monday during discussions at the House finance committee on the agriculture ministry’s 2016 budget, which foresees slashing 22 positions.

According to public service union PASYDY the stoppage will be held from 8.30am to 10.30am while union members stage a protest outside the House demanding “the immediate withdrawal of the provision for the abolition of 22 posts”. The protest will be followed by a march on the finance ministry.

“The abolition of 22 posts of Forest Officer will cause serious problems to the ability of the department to function properly,” the union said in a statement.

It added that “this reduction is in addition to the 23 Forest Officers and four Conservator of Forests positions already eliminated in the last four years.”

“This reduction will significantly degrade the capability for early detection and extinguishing forest fires and the control and proper management of forest areas with unpredictable consequences both to our natural resources and the degradation of the quality of life of our fellow human beings,” it added.

Staff numbers in the department have shrunk to only 285, according to PASYDY, even though their mission is much broader since 2013 having been assigned new “very demanding” tasks, such as checking on illegal timber trading, the implementation of a host of European regulations, plus implementation of the new forestry policy.

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