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‘Challenged’ BoC urges staff to limit wage demands

Bank of Cyprus has appealed to its staff to cooperate with management in addressing remaining challenges, including the reform of grading and pay systems, which are burdening the lender with ever-increasing costs.

In a letter to its around 4,000 employees, the bank, which was forced to seize almost half of its deposits over €100,000 to recapitalise as part of the island’s bailout in 2013, said there was still much to do before the lender could be declared “fixed”.

“We must remain vigilant and focused on finishing the repair and, importantly, ensuring the renewal of the bank in very challenging economic times,” the letter said. “We cannot support ever-increasing costs and we must radically simplify and reform the way we work if we are to have a chance of competing in an ever-changing and digitising world.”

BoC had been engaged in long yet fruitless talks with employee union Etyk on the reform of its grading and pay systems, performance management protocols and the affordability of any pay rises.

“Regrettably, no constructive agreement has been reached with the union to date and the outdated conventions of Cyprus’ Industrial Code do not allow us easily to implement these important and positive changes without union agreement,” the lender said. “We believe an agreement on modernisation is essential to the long-term health of the bank and your prospects.  We will continue to engage with the union on this into 2019.”

Nevertheless, recognising the sacrifices made by staff in the process of helping BoC get back on its feet, the management decided to grant the annual pay increments and cost of living allowance for 2018 to all permanent staff.

But it warned that changes must be made to overcome the challenges.

“The bank remains very challenged by its circumstances and we still have much work to do collectively to ensure its confident and competitive future,” the letter said.

“We will continue our engagement with Etyk and the ministry of labour in good faith to reach a longer-term agreement that achieves the critical and important balance across affordability, fairness, merit and historic practice. We do not wish to be in conflict with our people and their representatives but we must find the basis for a modern and progressive partnership with the union to overcome our challenges together.”

The management stressed that the bank’s business model had to be reviewed and efficiencies sought wherever possible, including, but not limited to, payroll cost.

 

 

 

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