Cyprus Mail

Police action threatened for nurses who refuse to join skeleton staff (Updated)

Nurses from PASYNO demonstrating outside parliament last week

All those nurses refusing to cooperate when asked to work as part of a skeleton staff will be referred to the police, Health minister George Pamporidis warned on Thursday.

“It is not possible for anyone who is designated as skeleton staff and is present in their workplace to refuse to work. If this happens, and if as a result the life of anyone is endangered, there are responsibilities,” Pamporidis said.

The minister’s statements followed claims on Wednesday that on two occasions nurses from the PASYNO nursing union had refused to work as part of a skeleton staff during the ongoing nursing strike.

“We will not allow the loss of lives, and where people put lives at risk, they will be referred to the competent authorities of the state.”

The union, which dismissed the claims as unfounded, said that they have launched an investigation into the matter.

On Thursday PASYNO spokesman Theodoros Petelis said that union members have been threatened by individuals that unless they leave the union or perform specific duties they would be fired.

Petelis said that the union’s members have increased significantly since last month – from 1300 to 1900 to-date – as their colleagues are recognising the “just struggle of the union”, but also due to the government’s “intransigent stance”.

PASYNO nurses are seeking higher entry-level wages and recognition of their qualifications as a university degree. The union fears this is their last chance to see this implemented before hospital autonomy kicks in. They say that at the moment all they want is recognition of their degrees and the pay rise could come when economic conditions allow.

On Thursday, three days into their indefinite strike, scores of PASYNO members protested outside parliament demanding recognition of their degrees as university level.

The protesters, holding placards saying “We demand equal treatment,” handed a memo to the secretary general of the parliament, Vasiliki Anastasiadou,addreed to the House speaker Yiannakis Omirou before marching on to the finance ministry.

“We demand recognition of our profession […] I demand as the scientist that I am, to be evaluated as scientific staff and not as staff with high school or post-secondary qualifications. We do not demand pay rises, we do not demand money. We demand recognition,” Petelis said.

Τhe state, he said, “insists in not satisfying any of our demands”.

“This makes us more stubborn, this makes us take to the streets.”

Nurse Maria Trianatfyllou, who travelled from Paphos, said that everyone “is turning a deaf ear”.

“We don’t want money, all we want is for them to recognise our university-level education,” Triantafyllou said.

Another protester, nurse George Savva, sent a message to DISY head Averof Neophytou who had said earlier in the month that if nurses don’t like their contracts they could very well get up and leave.

“If they had a choice to go elsewhere, they would. If we were in a country with an advanced health system, […] where colleagues had a choice, they would go elsewhere,” Savva said.

Meanwhile, Pamporidis called once more on PASYNO to engage in dialogue“ for as long as it takes” within the framework of hospital autonomy.

The head of PASYNO Panayiotis Georgiou, following a meeting with DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, said that the union is ready to make concessions as long as the government does the same.

He said that procedures need to be set in motion as regards pay scales, to be included in the nurses’ employment scheme, and could be implemented at a later stage.

Due to the strike, hospitals, especially the Limassol, Famagusta, Paphos, and Polis hospitals are operating with a skeleton staff. The government has made arrangements for emergency cases to be referred to the private sector.

The health ministry said in an announcement that in the 24 hours until 7.30am on Thursday, 576 people had visited the A&E rooms of all public hospitals. There had been 112 admissions, 20 surgeries, and four births, the ministry said, while four cases were referred to the private sector.

It added that all “critical services” like intensive care units, dialyses, transfusions, chemotherapy, endoscopy procedures and births, continued to be offered normally, and that all urgent cases were being treated promptly.









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