By Angelos Anastasiou
EMBATTLED employee unions at semi-state power company Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) have suspended their planned mobilisation, following an invitation by President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss their anti-privatisation demands on Monday morning, it emerged on Friday.
The decision was announced to union members on Friday, where union leaders launched vicious attacks against Energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, whom they deemed an “enemy of the EAC” and told they would “not sit at the same table again”.
But when Anastasiades informed them that Lakkotrypis would be present at Monday’s meeting, the union bosses relented “out of courtesy”.
This, however, did not stop them from accusing him of arrogance, an autocratic approach, and “playing games with electricity”.
“Look – they know they can’t do anything without amending the Constitution,” union leader Andreas Panorkos told EAC employees on Friday with regard to the prospect of privatisation.
“The company’s public status is constitutionally protected. They can’t do anything because they don’t have the votes they need [to amend the Constitution]. So, through indirect legislation, they want to break up the EAC.”
He was referring to government plans to reform the power producer by streamlining operations through breaking it up by function into smaller entities. This will also facilitate the liberalisation of the power-generation and supply markets, slated for next year. The splitting of EAC functions is a “prior action” to the release of the next tranche of bailout money to Cyprus by international creditors, scheduled for next month.
“Some seem to have made decisions, to which they strangely adhere to despite the difficulties they present, and the fact that they are simply wrong,” said union boss Adonis Yiasemides.
They accused Lakkotrypis of having predetermined the conclusions of an independent study still in the making.
“We asked to open the position of General Manager,” another union leader, Demetris Constantinou, told the gathered employees.
“Do you know what the minister’s response was? Wait for the study to come out, because you might need two General Managers.”
But despite the suspension of measures in protest of the government’s policies, the unions warned that if Monday’s meeting does not meet their expectations, they will proceed to immediate measures.
Insisting that they will not let up on their demands during the meeting with Anastasiades, the unions said “anything goes” with regard to the retaliatory measures they are considering, meaning possible strikes could result in power cuts.