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Cyprus

New civil servants’ union aims for equal rights

We have created a privileged class of employees who believe they are entitled to special treatment by the state

A new union for contract civil servants said on Friday its members are aiming for equal rights with their full-term colleagues.

The Equality trade union was established last month and represents civil servants working under fixed-term and open-ended contracts.

According to the union’s board chairman, Nicolas Panayides, Equality has 360 members so far.

Panayides told a press conference on Friday that the union’s aim is to fight against all forms of injustice against its members and to defend the dignity of their labour rights.

The civil service, he said, currently employees 5,500 people on open-ended contracts – 40 per cent of the entire civil service.

Citing a 2003 law which forbids unfavourable treatment of workers, the union argues that the terms of their employment when they were fixed-term employees were worse than the employment conditions of those who were appointed to corresponding permanent posts, ‘an injustice that continues to be the case today’.

Civil servants hired on fixed-term contracts have the right to be given open-ended contracts after 30 months of service.

Panayides said civil servants on open-ended contracts have no possibility of advancement and promotion, their experience does not count in the public service, and they have fewer annual leave days than their colleagues with permanent employment status.

As regards sick leave, he said that they are entitled to only 28 days compared with the 42 permanent employees get.

As far as their assessment is concerned, the maximum grade they can receive in the annual service evaluation report is ‘very satisfactory’ as opposed to ‘excellent’ for permanent staff. Their contribution to social insurance, he said, is 7.8 per cent for both the employee and the employer, while in the case of permanent staff contributions are 3.95 per cent and 11.65 per cent for the employee and employer, respectively.

From the date the law in question entered into force, he said, the employment terms and conditions of fixed-term workers should have been the same as those of permanent staff and not be unfavourable.
The unequal treatment is also contrary to the constitution, Panayides said.

“Unfortunately, up to today, we still don’t have the same rights and we are being treated as inferior employees,” he said.

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