The vast majority of striking bus drivers at the Paphos bus company (Osypa) have accepted Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastasiadou’s mediation proposal which saw the ministry on Tuesday seek to hire buses to operate in Paphos from Thursday to February 10.
After striking for seven days over the non-payment of December wages, Osypa drivers held a general meeting on Monday night to discuss the minister’s proposal to solve the public transport crisis in Paphos.
According to the regional secretary of Sek, Petros Demosthenous, the ministry’s proposal involves the termination of the government’s contract with Osypa and finding a temorary company to take over operations for Paphos public transport, until which time the bus drivers must be at the ministry’s disposal.
The ministry’s proposal also guaranteed that all of the approximately 200 Osypa employees will continue working with the new company and will retain the benefits granted by their current contract.
The Transport Ministry said the expression of interest for the Paphos bus routes could be renewed after it expires.
“Due to the termination of public transport services [the ministry] has moved to take an emergency measure to restore service in the Paphos district,” an announcement said.
The ministry said that any entity that takes on the buses will rent them to the ministry and will take on any charges, except for the petrol and the cost of the drivers.
Additionally, the ministry offered to cover the drivers’ wages for the period December 1 until January 9, when the drivers’ strike began, and offered to cover a minimum of 80 per cent of subsequent wages for drivers who agree to complete certain routes until a new company is secured.
Demosthenous said that the transport ministry sent a letter to Osypa on Saturday, giving the company 30 days to cease operations before the contract with the government is terminated.
Until the contract with Osypa is terminated on February 10, Demosthenous said that the drivers decided that they are willing to carry out certain routes which are urgently needed, such as those serving schools.
Representative of Osypa drivers Christos Evangelou said that “we give the transport ministry our consent to begin the search for new buses from tomorrow.”
Much of what the drivers were requesting are covered by the minister’s proposal, he added, noting that following the ministry’s written guarantees to the drivers, they are at the ministry’s disposal.