Strovolos mayor Andreas Papacharalamous on Monday described the strike by municipal rubbish collectors as an exaggerated response to the employment of private garbage collectors.
Rubbish collectors started the strike on Monday morning after the municipality used the services of private companies, saying their actions were endorsed by their unions and followed a warning letter last October.
They also sent a second letter on May 10 informing the municipality of their strike if private sector workers were hired.
“Today’s measures are no more than a warning, and if there is no positive outcome, they will culminate in the next few weeks, days and hours to be decided by a general assembly of workers,” the statement said.
Employees called on the council to make other arrangement in consultation with the unions.
They are asking the municipality to examine the suggestions made by the trade unions, mainly the creation of inter-municipal services, which will result in savings for all municipalities and at the same time provide more efficient and better services.
Municipal dustmen from all districts have made this suggestion before. They have for months held meetings with their trade unions Peo and Sek and threatened industrial action if municipalities do not agree to go along with their proposal.
Municipalities, according to Peo representative Constantinos Kyriacou were forced to hire private companies for garbage collection ever since a freeze in filling vacant job posts following the economic crisis meant their own crews were not in a position to cope with the workload.
Even though municipal dustmen don’t directly risk losing their jobs, Kyriacou said, there are two long-term problems.
Firstly, the practice will gradually lead to loss of municipal posts as dustmen who eventually retire will no longer be replaced. Secondly, private garbage collection companies refuse to provide collective agreements for their employees, meaning lower salaries and even illegal employment.