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Government and co-op unions on ‘same wavelength’ (Update 1)

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said President Nicos Anastasiades has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to protect the 2,650 Co-op workers’ rights during a meeting with workers’ unions at the presidential palace on Thursday.

With negotiations between Hellenic Bank, Cyprus’s third-largest lender, and the state-owned, second-largest Cypriot bank, being “in their final stage” and their conclusion expected “any hour now,” talks with the unions will continue over the coming days, “provided we have the agreement on the future of the Cooperative Bank,” Prodromou told reporters, according to a transcript of his comments emailed by the Press and Information Office.

He said that a number of the co-op workers will continue working for Hellenic after the bank acquires part of the bailed-out bank’s operations, which includes its performing loan portfolio and its deposits, the spokesman added after Anastasiades met a delegation of SEK, PEO, Pasydy and Etyk. Another section of the co-op workers will be employed in the entity that will manage the co-op’s non-performing loan portfolio of over €6bn.

Hellenic is also expected to acquire bonds worth over €4bn issued in favour to the co-op by the government, which bailed it out in 2013 and owns more than 99 per cent of its capital.

“We will, therefore, have the specific details and data after we have reached an agreement,” Prodromou said.

“We must stress that the agreement has not been concluded so everything we say is subject to the agreement being reached on the transformation of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank and the absorption of part of its operations by another bank,” he continued. “The finance minister informed unions on the course of the negotiations noting that part of the talks are labour issues and the workers’ rights”.

“It was useful that there was a preliminary meeting with the unions ahead of the agreement, because the president of the Republic, the finance minister and the government in general, want to be on the same wavelength with unions given that it is the government’s position and its pursuit to safeguard workers’ rights at the co-op”.

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