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Cyprus

British bases deny fire-fighters’ jobs are under threat

Previous strike action in Akrotiri

The British bases on Wednesday rejected claims by unions representing Greek and Turkish Cypriot fire fighters working on the bases that their jobs were under threat.

“Any suggestion that our 120 fire fighters will lose their jobs is completely unfounded,” said bases spokesman Sean Tully.

“We are considering options for contracting the fire and rescue service but no decisions have been made and this has been explained to the unions,” he said, adding that even if the decision to contract out the fire and recuse service was made the unions had been briefed that under employment rights, “transfer of undertakings would apply”.

According to a trade union statement earlier this week, Greek and Turkish Cypriot workers are fighting a “united struggle to keep their jobs in the British bases in Cyprus”.

Employees from both communities are seeking state support in what they described as a difficult and unequal struggle to keep their jobs.

SEK and Toursen, unions representing some 120 of the 1,300 Greek and Turkish Cypriots employed on the bases, said the bases’ authorities have not kept to agreements they signed with the workers and are attempting to reduce benefits and remuneration.

“Apart from these methods, they are taking steps to privatise services, pushing into unemployment employees who have been in their service for years,” a union statement said.

Existing agreements for the privatisation of services provided for the voluntary retirement of employees or their transfer to the contractors who undertake these privatised services, maintaining their wages and benefits. Unions say these are not being adhered to and have threatened to react with all ‘legal means’ at their disposal.

The unions said that the bases’ cost-cutting measure are focusing at present on the fire service which cannot take dynamic action, such as going on strike, as it is considered a security service.

“The bases fire fighters are a highly valued and skilled force who save lives and protect property on an almost daily basis, before making any decisions regarding an industry partner we are committed to ensuring that this capability is maintained,” said Tully.

Workers at the bases went on strike last year in September to protest a unilateral decision for pay cuts that month.

Unions said they had submitted proposals aimed at finding acceptable solutions but the employers still went ahead with their decision anyway.

The British bases have been told by the British defence ministry to make €5.2mln in savings across the board on operations in Cyprus.

 

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