By Angelos Anastasiou
STRIKING Larnaca bus drivers, employees of the Zenon consortium, plan to bring their protest to Nicosia next week, in order to pressure three government ministers and parliament into vindicate them, it was announced on Friday.
The bus drivers went on strike on Monday, initially for 24 hours, over wage reductions agreed to in 2014, which they claim should be restored upon expiry of the deal at the end of 2015.
Soon, the strike was extended to 48 hours, and by Wednesday it had become “indefinite”, after transport ministry permanent undersecretary Alecos Michaelides met with union and employer reps in a failed bid to bridge disagreements.
On Friday, PEO union leader Pambis Kyritsis announced that the bus drivers will escalate measures, starting next week, and if necessary a ‘strike fund’ will be created to help them make ends meet until their fight bears fruit.
“This fight will go on as long as is required to achieve victory,” Kyritsis said after a meeting with the striking staff.
“If some think that they have found vulnerable people and a weak sector to send the message that labour mobilisations are ineffective, or that employees are defenseless, they are mistaken. The entire movement will support them.”
Asked to explain the kind of support striking bus drivers can look forward to, Kyritsis said that “if and when required, strike funds will be created for these people to feed their families”.
“As of Monday, the strikers will bring petitions to the three ministries involved – finance, labour, and transport – to ask the ministers for vindication,” he said.
“The strikers will also be outside parliament, since the issue will be on the agenda of the House Labour committee, to ask MPs for vindication, too.”
In this way, he added, the escalation of measures begins, and the coming week will determine “how it goes”.
Kyritsis noted that, while the unions and employees are willing to negotiate a solution, but the transport minister’s attitude leaves no room for hope.
“There is no leeway when it comes to matters of principle,” he said.
“We are flexible in negotiating for a solution. Proof of this is that we went to the tri-partite meeting at the transport ministry, and even worked out a solution.”
Unions blamed the falling through of the talks on Wednesday on Transport Minister Marios Demetriades, who, they claimed, killed the negotiated agreement on the spot.