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Cyprus

Nursing strike to remain in place for now

Nurses from PASYNO demonstrating outside parliament last week

Striking nurses and the state managed to find some common ground on Monday but strike measures will remain in place for the time being pending discussion of a health ministry proposal.
“There was dialogue between the health minister, us, and the patients (association), and we have found some convergences, which we can discuss,” Panayiotis Georgiou, chairman of nurses union PASYNO said after the meeting on Monday evening.
Georgiou said the proposal, whose details he did not disclose, would be presented to the union’s members on Tuesday.
He said they were partly satisfied and partly dissatisfied with aspects of the proposal “but you do realise it is not us who will take the final decision.”
On Monday afternoon, PASYNO members voted to escalate their measures by gradually withdrawing their members from the skeleton staff at various health facilities across the island.
Their places would be taken by members of PASYDY and independent nurses who did not follow PASYNO in going on a strike on March 15.
“We cannot speak of an escalation of measures,” Georgiou said. “First we will take the health ministry proposal, which is supported by the patients, and then we will see; if the base does not accept it then we will proceed with the measures.”
In any case, he said, no departments would be directly affected initially.
Earlier in the day, the patients’ association said Health Minister Giorgos Pamborides was prepared to discuss all the nurses’ demands.
In a statement that followed meetings with both sides, the association said the demands would be raised in the framework of the discussion on hospital autonomy.
PASYNO members want their qualifications to be equated to a university degree but the state refuses saying that would mean an additional €33mln per year.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said that was not something they were examining since the health ministry had not even tabled such a demand.
Georgiades told a morning news show that the health ministry disagreed with the demand since the cost would inevitably mean cutting something else from the budget.
Asked if the government could recognise the qualifications and grant the pay rises later, as the nurses had suggested, Georgiades said such a move would be irresponsible.
When the reporter pointed out that nurses had been given that promise in the past, the minister said: “If there is anyone who gave such a promise, let them come out and say when they gave the promise and why they didn’t see it through.”
It is understood that it was the previous administration, which told nurses that additional qualifications would lead to higher pay.
Georgiades said there was no cabinet decision, no binding decision, referring to inclusion of PASYNO nurses in higher pay grades.
Meanwhile, the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN) pledged their support for “the struggle of nurses in Cyprus” for equal recognition as professionals.
In a letter addressed to President Nicos Anastasiades, the Secretary General of EFN Paul De Raeve, said that the organisation, despite the fact that it recognises the need for the government to slash salaries due to the economic crisis, it however, “expects nurses to have reasonable remuneration and acceptable working conditions”.

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