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No end in sight to Paphos bus strike

The empty Osypa bus terminal in Paphos

Drivers of the Paphos public transport company (Osypa) completed their third day of strike measures on Friday, with the strike having no end in sight as rivalling sides continue to lay fault elsewhere.

While the bus company asks for money from the ministry, the ministry claims it is the company which owes money to the government rather than the other way around.

The transport ministry’s efforts to bypass the strike by securing alternative transportation for Paphos schoolchildren through private bus companies has failed, the striking drivers’ spokesperson Christos Evangelou said on Friday.

“Through our intervention with the drivers of the other companies and with the companies themselves, they have withdrawn their interest to transport students as of Monday,” Evangelou said.

Evangelou called on the ministry to refrain from reattempting to find solutions from other private bus companies, and to rather focus efforts on finding permanent solutions for the issues at hand.

The current strike is affecting 8,500 people, about 5,000 pupils and about 3,500 other passengers.

Despite the ministry’s insistence on laying the fault for the non-payment of December wages on Osypa’s alleged mismanagement of money, claiming that it had already provided for the payment of wages for November, December, and 13th salary, Evangelou presented evidence from bank transfers on behalf of government to Osypa which he said prove otherwise.

According to Evangelou, two bank transfers made in December following the last round of strikes by Osypa drivers show that the government gave the company €424,000.

The total cost of three wages, Evangelou noted, is over double that amount, since it reaches more than €887,000.

The striking workers will ask for the intervention of President Nicos Anastasiades, who will be in Paphos for the reopening of the refurbished Attikon cultural centre, Evangelou added.

“We will ask from Anastasiades to make one more try with both sides so that a solution can be found for the payment of workers’ wages and so that public transport can start running again in Paphos,” Evangelou said.

On the part of the government, Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastasiadou told Sigma on Thursday that the Ministry has already met with the legal service, and has warned Osypa of all potential measures that may be taken.

“We called on the company to find ways to cover the amount owed to the state,” Anastasiadou said. “There are some time margins… Once these pass, we will move forward with measures,” Anastasiadou said.

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