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Union accuses employers of class hate

While total expenses for 2019 were up 36 per cent, amounting to €273m, up from €201.3m in the previous year, a large part of that figure resulted from the acquisition and integration of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank

PEO trade unionist Pambis Kyritsis accused employers’ associations on Saturday of arrogance following their objections to demands of Co-operative Bank employees for compensation of up to €200,000 for voluntary retirement.

Employers and trade unions continued to cross swords on Saturday with the former insisting that bank unions cannot demand this much in compensation for staff who will be made redundant as part of the Co-op bank’s acquisition by Hellenic, and the latter claiming it is the workers’ right provided by law.

Reports said that according to a document by the bank workers’ union Etyk earlier in the week, bank workers who opt for voluntary retirement from the Co-operative bank want between €100,000 and €200,000.

General secretary of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marios Tsiakkis told state broadcaster CyBC radio on Saturday that such demands are unheard of, especially since this case concerns an organisation on the brink of collapse, and not a business that is reducing its staff.

In response, Kyritsis refuted claims that the lender is closing down, but rather that this concerns transfer of operations.

He also said that European legislation, adopted by Cyprus, protects workers in such cases. The Co-op bank’s employees are legally protected, he said, and that this is known both to the government and Hellenic bank who agreed to a voluntary exit scheme.

Kyritsis accused employers’ associations of arrogance and class hate.

Bank workers’ union Etyk said in a statement that its members will do anything to safeguard their rights.

The union said the voluntary exit scheme, that is being processed by the administration of the Central Co-operative Bank, must respond to the parameters set by Etyk so that it is attractive to all employees to meet the number of volunteers set as target. It also said that they will not accept any form of pressure on employees to accept the scheme.

It also said, however, that employees who will be transferred to Hellenic or who will remain at the Co-op bank must be chosen on merit and based on the actual needs of the two organisations, adding that it would not accept “interventions like those that have been taking place for years within the Co-op.”

About 1,100 of Co-op’s 2,650 staff will go to Hellenic while another 900 will have to retire through a voluntary retirement scheme.

On Friday, employers’ association OEV said it was unacceptable and an insult for Co-op bank unions to demand up to €200,000 in compensation for those who would opt for the exit scheme.

In a written statement, OEV said any cash paid would come out of the taxpayers’ pockets and it was “unacceptable, insulting and dangerous to hold discussions on the figures that became public.”
OEV said the co-op bank is a private company and the employer has every right to make staff redundant and is thus under no obligation to pay such high compensation.

According to law, it said, the highest paid employee in the private sector with decades of service can only receive a maximum €52,667 from the redundancy fund.

OEV said thousands of private sector workers lost their jobs in companies that went bankrupt without ever receiving anything over and above their redundancy payment.

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