A 12-hour work stoppage planned by hourly-paid workers at Nicosia’s Archbishop Makarios III hospital was called off on Thursday following the intervention of Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis.
The work stoppage – which started at 6.30am – was interrupted after Pamboridis reportedly promised to bring the matter up in next week’s cabinet meeting and suggest hiring ten more people to address the understaffing problem.
Scores of hourly-paid employees at the hospital went on strike to protest over the understaffing, which they say also poses health risks to patients. Trade unions Sek and Peo said that staff who clean and disinfect surgeries are immediately afterwards called to work in the hospital kitchen, thus violating hygiene rules.
Unions said the decision to hold a work stoppage was taken after warning authorities about it in writing on January 29. The problems, they said, have existed since the beginning of 2017 and the health ministry promised last May to remedy the situation but nothing had been done.
According to the head of the health minister’s office, Anastasia Anthousi, Pamporidis met with the employees and their union reps on Thursday morning at the hospital to hear about the problems they face.
The employees, she said, agreed to postpone the work stoppage after being convinced of the minister’s goodwill to help resolve the problems.
The most serious problem was that of understaffing, Anthousi said, a resolution to which was delayed by red tape.
She said that cleaners at the Makarios hospital were asked to also work at the health centres that are connected to the hospital due to staff shortages and this “was causing malfunctions”.
Pamboridis, after consulting with the finance minister, she said, will propose to the cabinet hiring 10 more people. A meeting is to also take place in two weeks where all problems faced by the hospital will be recorded.
Sek rep Giorgos Constantinou said that these ten posts concern cleaners, messengers and room service assistants.
He said they expect cabinet to approve filling those empty posts, which would help resolve many problems.