THE five trade unions of the state telecoms company (CyTA) employees are confident that a set of government bills designed to facilitate the organisation’s privatisation in future will be down-voted by parliamentary parties, they told their members in a joint message.
According to daily Politis, the unions informed CyTA employees that discussion of the bills is scheduled to start at the House Finance committee on Monday, and, although no pressure need be applied yet, the need for protest cannot be ruled out.
“We call on you to remain alert,” employees were told in the message.
“We feel that, at present, there is no need for mass mobilisations. We do not know what the final outcome of deliberations will be, nor how long these might take, but at any point each of us, and all of us together, should be ready for whatever might be necessary.”
In the same message, the unions conveyed a veiled threat against the parties, ahead of May’s legislative elections.
“It is our democratic right to know how each party will position itself on this issue of paramount importance, ahead of the May elections,” the unions said.
“In the meantime, we are pushing to start the procedure to modernise the organisation, per the document we drafted jointly.”
All the unions united, calmly and seriously, will address the challenges facing them, the joint message added.
The unions’ ultimate goal is for the government bills to be rejected, and they listed a number of reasons for their optimism that it can be achieved.
“We have justice on our side, our love for our organisation and our country is a given, our arguments have been stated repeatedly, our determination has peaked, and unity is a fact,” the unions said.
Such optimism seems not at all misplaced, as a parliamentary majority has already voiced opposition to the government’s plan to denationalise the telecoms provider. The parties opposed include centre-right DIKO, which had thus far backed most government-sponsored legislation required by international creditors as part of an economic adjustment plan.
Although slated to exit the bailout programme upon its expiry in March, Cyprus has yet to meet one final set of requirements before receiving the loan’s final tranche, including getting the CyTA bills passed through the House.
“Our position remains unchanged: we will not vote for these bills,” said DIKO’s Angelos Votsis.
The five government bills call for the creation of a new state-owned telecoms company that will take over the assets and operations of the existing company under a private-law regime – which means it can subsequently be subject to privatisation if the government so decides, as opposed to the existing public-law company – and four additional bills safeguarding the employment status and benefits of CyTA employees after they are transferred to the new entity.