By Angelos Anastasiou
Bank employees’ union ETYK announced a 48-hour strike for employees at the Cooperative Central Bank (CCB) starting Thursday, escalating measures after management reneged on a tentative agreement regarding collective agreements, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
The new strike action comes two weeks after ETYK staged a 24-hour abstention from work for employees at the CCB over the management’s refusal to implement the terms of a renewal to the collective agreements until 2016, as agreed on November 30.
The bank employees’ union had accused finance minister Harris Georgiades of vetoing the deal, which he denied in a statement.
“The claim by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades that responsibility for handling these matters lies exclusively with the CCB’s management, and that Mr Georgiades has made no interventions, does not convince us and raises reasonable questions, since we had reached agreement with the management, and so we wonder what else may have occurred for the same management we shook hands with to refuse to implement the agreement,” ETYK said in a statement on Wednesday.
The union added that during its last meeting with the bank’s management, last Friday, it stated that “time has run out” and anything short of implementation of the terms agreed on November 30 is “not acceptable”.
ETYK has started the process of filing criminal lawsuits against the CCB’s management for not granting the annual salary increments and cost-of-living allowance for the years 2014 and 2015.
Meanwhile, ETYK warned “every responsible or irresponsible member of the bank’s management” that any effort to exert pressure, intimidate, or obstruct any member’s constitutional right to strike will be met immediately with every means available to ETYK, “including personal lawsuits”.
It added that it has already “sent a warning letter to a particular member of management, as well as a clear warning to the bank’s management, that such illegal actions will not be tolerated”.
The union charged that the recent developments suggest that “either some consider the CCB’s management incapable of handling labour matters and make agreements on its own, or that the CCB itself does not have the fundamental consistency to implement what it has agreed to, which tarnishes its credibility and effectiveness”.
“This is why implementing what has been agreed is a one-way street for the bank’s management,” ETYK argued.
“We hope that, even at this eleventh hour, those responsible for this situation can reflect on their responsibilities and make the right choices, so that further escalation of needless and damaging conflict caused by their actions can be avoided.”
ETYK’s announcement was criticised by employee unions PEO and SEK.
“It is offensive to all employees at the CCB for ETYK to act this way, at a time when parliament voted in favour of a financial injection to the CCB,” the two unions said in a joint statement.
“It begs the question what and whose interests this behaviour serves. Certainly not those of the employees.”
The two unions noted that the vast majority of employees at the co-ops is represented by PEO and SEK, and that ETYK represents a small group of CCB employees.