Cyprus Mail

Striking bus drivers prepare to descend on presidential palace

Photo: CNA

Paphos bus drivers said on Monday evening they were still planning on protesting outside the presidential palace on Tuesday despite a last-ditch effort by the transport ministry which paid their company the subsidies for October and November.

A spokesman for the drivers, Christos Evangelou, told state television CyBC they were going ahead with the protest because they had not received any assurances for the December and 13th salaries.

“We will first go to the presidential palace and then parliament,” he said.

He said the company, Osypa, could not guarantee anything beyond November.

The transport ministry said on Monday it had made the payments for October and November and called on the company to pay the drivers in line with the law and its contractual obligations.

The ministry said the company should not victimize its staff over financial differences it had with the ministry.

Earlier Monday, Osypa CEO Constantinos Ioannides accused the transport ministry of hassling drivers of private bus companies into transporting students to and from school each day.

Complaints regarding the ministry’s harassment of drivers of private bus companies come from the drivers themselves, Ioannides told the Cyprus News Agency.

The allegation follows the announcement on Friday by the transport ministry permanent secrtetary, Stavros Michael, who said they would be drafting a plan B, which involved securing alternative means of public transportation, with the transportation of school children being the ministry’s highest priority.

“We are willing to give Osypa one more opportunity for dialogue, but if a solution is not found in the next few days, we will have to move forward with plan B,” Michael said.

The current deadlock between the state and the public transport provider is the result of the bus company insisting that the ministry draws up a new independent arbitration committee to assess their dispute on financial matters, while the state refuses to begin dialogue until strike measures cease, with striking employees refusing to yield until a solution is found between the two parties.

The intermittent strike measures have caused serious problems for public transport users who are mainly students, the elderly, low-income workers and tourists.


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