By Stelios Orphanides
President Nicos Ananastasiades said that as part of the government’s plans to set up a separate under-secretariat for tourism, it signed an agreement with the two big unions.
“We signed, following an extensive dialogue with SEK and PEO an agreement regulating labour issues (emerging) from the transformation of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) to an under-secretariat,” the President said by posting an image on his Twitter account on Wednesday. The image is signed by under-secretary to the President Constantinos Petrides, who oversees the government’s reform efforts including the preparation of the national tourism strategy.
Anastasiades said the next step would be the submission of the relevant bill to the legislature for discussion.
Union officials said that the agreement signed kept all benefits enjoyed by the CTO workers unchanged.
“We signed the agreement with (Finance) Minister Haris Georgiades and Minister (of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism) Giorgos Lakkotrypis, which preserves benefits unchanged, provided that state institutions decide to go ahead with the establishment of the under-secretariat,” Andreas Elia, an official of SEK said in a telephone interview.
Elia added that his union supported the idea of changing the status of the CTO from a semi-governmental organisation into an under-secretariat.
His colleague at PEO, Antonis Neophytou, said that in case of the implementation of the government’s proposal to set up the tourism under-secretariat, which may require a constitutional amendment, CTO workers, who would automatically become civil servants, would receive the same salary as before.
In addition, they would continue to be covered by the CTO’s welfare fund, pension fund and healthcare fund, instead of being placed under the regime that applied to the civil servants, he said.
Neophytou added that while Peo signed the agreement, the union continued to support the idea of keeping the CTO after the establishment of the under-secretariat for tourism. “We shouldn’t lose the experience and know-how of CTO in case it is transformed into a part of the civil service,” he said.