The two public-hospital nurses’ unions should discuss joining forces to push for their demands, PASYDY union nurses’ branch leader Prodromos Argyrides told the Cyprus Mail on Friday.
According to Argyrides, on Friday afternoon PASYDY will unveil a proposal to PASYNO union, which has announced its intention of holding a vote among members on Monday on whether to stage an indefinite strike at public hospitals, by which the two organisations can jointly go about demanding better terms of employment for nurses at public hospitals.
Last week, PASYNO members went on a two-day strike, protesting not being officially informed of the terms of a deal concerning the employment status of nurses, clinched between the government and PASYDY.
Further, PASYNO is demanding higher entry-level wages for degree-holding nurses, the unfreezing of promotions, and the introduction of a hazardous-occupation allowance.
In an official statement on the second day of PASYNO’s strike, PASYDY openly criticised the union of “taking advantage of PASYDY’s achievements”.
“PASYNO is taking advantage of this vital issue in an attempt to make it their primary request, demanding its immediate implementation at the worst timing,” PASYDY said.
But cooler heads appear to have prevailed since, and PASYDY has adopted a more conciliatory stance.
“The newly-elected board convened to discuss this issue, and we were urged by some members from the base to meet with PASYNO and try to join forces,” Argyrides told the Cyprus Mail.
“So we have arranged to meet with them on Friday afternoon, and propose the terms of a joint effort.”
Argyrides declined to list the terms of the proposal, saying it would not be “prudent” to make them public before officially laying them out for PASYNO.
“If our proposal is not acceptable, the board will convene again to decide on the way forward,” he added.
Last month, following consultations with the government, PASYDY was able to achieve the immediate unfreezing of 185 nursing positions, and “paved the way for discussions for all outstanding issues in the health sector”.
But at the heart of the problem for PASYNO lies the fact that, despite boasting more than 1,300 members – around half of state hospital nurses – it was not invited to the table for discussion.
This, sources from PASYNO claimed, is a remnant of the fact that, in the 1990s, when discussion with nurses began in earnest as part of broader planning for the introduction of the National Health System, the only union around had been PASYDY.
This is no longer the case, and PASYNO demands its acknowledgement as one of the key stakeholders on issues affecting state-hospital nurses.