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DISY withdraws bill to regulate strikes in essential services

Ruling DISY withdrew its proposal to regulate strikes in essential services, which was expected to be put to the vote on Thursday, the last day before parliament dissolves ahead of May’s elections.

DISY spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the vote will be postponed to give time for talks with unions.

It followed a meeting between the party leadership and two unions, SEK and PASYDY, which asked for the dialogue on the matter to continue.

The proposal was submitted DISY chief Averof Neophytou amid a strike by public sector nurses in March, which caused huge problems to patients.

After two weeks PASYNO, the striking nurses union, sought to escalate its measures by withdrawing skeleton staff from hospitals, prompting the government to react by seeking nurse services from the private sector.

The government’s response eventually brought the strike to an end with the two sides agreeing to talk. But by withdrawing emergency staff, PASYNO was violating an agreement made with the unions a decade ago regarding strikes in essential services.

PASYNO was not around at the time and according to Neophytou, his bill provided that all unions must adhere by certain rules before and during a strike.

It also provided for jail time of not more than two years and or a fine of up to €3,000 for anyone breaking the law. DISY agreed to remove the penalties in a bid to achieve consensus but it never looked like the proposal was going anywhere a month before the elections.

A strong opponent was main opposition AKEL, which accused DISY of trying to criminalise strikes. AKEL itself passed a law regulating air traffic controller strikes in 2012.

PEO, the union affiliated with AKEL, sought to rally all other unions to participate in a protest that it had planned to hold outside parliament on Thursday.

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