Cyprus Mail

Larnaca bus drivers continue strike for second day

Passengers boarding a public bus

Drivers of Larnaca buses operated by Zenon on Tuesday refused to work for the second day, calling on employers to abide by the pay deals signed by the two sides and stop deducting five per cent from their salaries, a temporary measure that expired in December.

The two sides are expected to meet on Wednesday with the permanent secretary of the transport ministry in a bid to mend bridges and resume bus routes.

Despite the strike, Zenon shareholders who also have professional bus driver licences took students to school on Tuesday morning.

Around 100 Zenon drivers staged a 24-hour strike on Monday in protest over their payment agreements, and unions decided to extend it for a further 48 hours to end at 5am on Thursday. The move was decided after Zenon refused to bring paycheques back up to previous pay levels.

According to union representatives, drivers had agreed to a reduction in their salaries as an act of good will in the face of Zenon’s financial problems, but that agreement ended in December 2015 and now drivers want their salaries returned to previous levels. Furthermore, employees criticised the company as they claim, they accepted cuts in their salary, but shareholders had increased their own pay by up to €1,500.

Despite calls by the transport ministry, Zenon said it was impossible to reinstate the wages at the present time, and pledged to resolve the problem.

MP of the House Labour committee Skevi Koukouma, who attended a meeting Tuesday between the drivers and their unions said that apart from the pay issue the drivers face other problems like poor working conditions and the poor state of the buses, for which the company “should have taken measures”.

She added that the buses should be air-conditioned, while “drivers should not wipe the fog off the bus windscreens by themselves or for water to enter the buses whenever it rains”.

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