Cyprus Mail

Nurses vote to return to work (Update)

WITH a majority vote, public sector nurses union PASYNO on Friday decided to rescind all strike measures and return to work the same evening.

After a two-hour members’ meeting in Limassol they agreed they would be returning to work at 7pm.

The decision was taken based on a preliminary deal struck a day earlier with the government to engage in dialogue and find a solution by the end of August.

Put to the vote on Friday, nurses were briefed on what the deal actually entailed.

Anchored primarily on dialogue, PASYNO and the state agreed that no contractors or permanent staff members would be fired when hospitals would get their autonomy as part of the general reforms in the health sector.

Contractors – comprising most if not all of the union – will also be evaluated in the same category as permanent members of staff, degree holders.

The strike, in place since March 15 with some 1,900 members walking out, caused major problems in state hospitals with hundreds of patients referred to the private sector.

Nurses began the strike in a bid to pressure government to recognise their qualifications as university degrees and increase their pay scale – a demand the state abjectly refused saying it would cost more than €30m.

Earlier this week, the union decided to escalate measures further, gradually withdrawing skeleton staff who were placed in hospitals.

President Nicos Anastasiades, however, reacted on Wednesday saying the government planned to procure nursing services and outsource more cases to the private sector to mitigate the disruption.

A day later, PASYNO decided not to continue the strike but not up the measures, following a meeting with undersecretary to the state Constantinos Petrides on Thursday.

The Cyprus Medical Association hailed the deal calling on all those involved in the health sector to positively contribute to the state’s efforts to restructure state hospitals – a move to give hospitals autonomy and introduce the much anticipated National Health Scheme.

Once unions’ decision was announced, Petrides tweeted he was pleased with the move and it was time to engage in the difficult yet necessary step to design the new way hospitals would operate.

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