Cyprus Mail

Neophytou tables bill to regulate strikes in essential services

RULING DISY chief Averof Neophytou has submitted a bill to regulate strikes in essential services amid a strike by public sector nurses, which caused huge problems to patients.

Neophytou wanted to put the proposal to the vote during Thursday’s plenary session, an attempt opposed by AKEL.

It was eventually agreed to fast-track the bill to the House labour committee, which will be reviewing it next week and bringing it to the plenum for a vote on April 7.

The AKEL administration had passed similar legislation regulating air traffic controller strikes in March 2012.

AKEL parliamentary spokesman Yiannos Lamaris said his party was against rushing the bill.

“The unions themselves pledged a few years ago to maintain skeleton staff in essential services,” Lamaris said. “Thus, we think it is (strikes) a weapon in the hands of the workers, which should remain and continue to be used as sparingly as possible.”

“There must be skeleton staff,” he added. “It reduces the effectiveness of the strike but you cannot use a weapon that affects others.”

Neophytou’s proposal prohibits strikes and counter strikes in essential services at any stage of an ongoing process to resolve differences and before a decision by an arbitration committee.

Action is also banned before the issue is brought before the committee.

The side that does not accept the committee’s decision can take industrial action 25 days after warning in writing.

The strike must ensure a minimum level of service.

The proposal defines as essential, services that are necessary for control, processing, and distribution of fuel, uninterrupted supply of power, water supply, telecommunications, radio communication, air transport, hospitals, ports, prisons, customs, sewerage, waste management, refuse collection, and maintenance and repair of electromechanical installations in hospitals, airports, and National Guard, fire service, and police facilities.

It provides for jail time of not more than two years and or a fine of up to €3,000 for anyone breaking the law.

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