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Cyprus

Airport workers do not rule out more strike measures

Paphos airport

The unions representing ground services providers Swissport and LGS at Larnaca and Paphos airports which staged work stoppages earlier in the week, said on Thursday they did not rule out escalating measures.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, PEO union’s representative Savvas Touloupos, said that workers were willing to enter a dialogue as long as employers withdrew their demands. He added that so far, the employers had not made any moves in that direction.

On Wednesday, 23 flights to and from Paphos airport were affected by the three-hour strike by  around 350 workers from Swissport and LGS. The work stoppage, coordinated by the SEK, PEO, and DEOK unions followed one at Larnaca airport on Monday which lasted 90 minutes.

The ground services staff claim that their employers, Swissport and LGS, are violating collective agreements.

According to the union representatives, employers were demanding that workers be paid normal rate when working on holidays, and unilaterally withheld pay increments. In addition, they said, the two companies are demanding reductions in salaries and in provident fund contributions, while one of the two companies signed agreements with part-time staff under which they would not be paid extra for working on holidays, thus violating collective agreements.

Negotiations reached a dead-end workers said, following a 14-month period of negotiations with the two employers.

“It seems that we will escalate measures. After two work stoppages there is nothing specific. If the employers withdraw their demands for concessions on behalf of the workers, we are ready to go to negotiations,” Touloupos said.

He also deflected accusations that the workers acted irresponsibly and that they were harming the economy.

He added that if they wanted to “punish the economy”, they would have acted in December when negotiations with the two companies faltered.

“We didn’t do it back then. We showed responsibility, as everything was indicating that we would have a very successful tourist season so we didn’t do anything to spoil what was about to evolve as we took into consideration the problems of the economy,” Touloupos said.

“This stance of ours however… it seems it was misunderstood and now our collective agreements are being violated. If in a good tourist season our employers demand concessions, what are we to expect in a bad season? “he said.

He added that there was increased tourism, and an increased workload, and that the ground services staff at the two airports had been cut.

The next strike measures, he said, will last more than those of this week.

Swissport denied on Wednesday that the latest agreement with the employees had been violated. It said that the issue was currently before the Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou, and that it accepted and implemented an interim proposal of the minister, which was also agreed by the employees.

 

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