By Annette Chrysostomou
STAFF at the agriculture ministry staged a two-hour strike on Friday morning to protest against the violation of labour agreements between the government and public service union PASYDY regarding the restructuring of positions in the organisation.
In a protest letter to Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis, the employees complained about the breach of agreed positions and the ministry’s commitment to transfer senior agriculture officials and inspectors in 2016.
Among others, they complained about the abolition of four senior positions and their transfer to another department for reasons which are possibly “for the satisfaction of personal ambitions of some people.”
“It is unacceptable to make such decisions which contradict a cabinet decision to conduct a study on the restructuring of the ministry, something that never happened,” the strikers stated.
They called on the minister to review their claims and to take the necessary actions to resolve the problems in order to prevent further disruption.
“We do not believe that we have violated any agreement,” permanent secretary of the agriculture ministry Olympia Stylianou commented after the strike outside the ministry from 10am to 12am. “The agreement on the restructuring of the organisation states that arrangements for the transfer of positions would be examined at the official level according to needs and the current government policy and that is what we did.”
“Eight senior positions were abolished because there were no candidates. Four of the eight positions are being transferred and will be filled directly. There are also,” she said, “six other senior positions to be filled immediately and so the department of agriculture will be strengthened by a total of ten posts.”
Four of the eight positions which were eliminated are thereby creating positions in the department of environment which has very high needs as demonstrated by studies such as the most recent World Bank study for restructuring the ministry, the permanent secretary added. “The issue of personal ambitions is completely unfounded.”
On the issue of senior agriculture inspectors she was positive and it will be promoted, she said. These positions, she explained, were not included in the budgets of 2016 because according to the finance ministry, there is no one right now who meets the requirements, for example 16 years of service.