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Around 15,000 construction workers plan 24-hour strike on Wednesday

Around 15,000 construction workers from all districts will go on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to warn building contractors who employ them to renew their collective agreement and restore their slashed salaries and benefits.

The workers will gather to protest at noon, at the Peo premises in Nicosia and Paphos and the premises of Sek in Limassol, Larnaca and Famagusta.

At the gatherings, a decision will be made with the aim to terminate the unacceptable situation, the trade unions said.

Trade unions Peo, Sek and Deok will also ask the workers to give them authorisation to step up the measures if the dispute is not resolved.

The workers complain that contractors refuse to sign a collective agreement specifying working hours, wages, holidays, benefits and provident funds. They say the refusal encourages illegal employment and unfair competition and allows employers to pay workers less than they should.

“The workers’ side will never abandon the effort to fully implement the core articles of the collective agreement by all contractors and requires, on the basis of a written agreement with the building contractors, to restore all cuts related to employees’ personal wages and their benefits,” Tuesday’s announcement by the three unions said.

The unions announced last month their construction members would go on the warning strike after they failed to reach an agreement with the contractors.

The construction workers have warned from last year that they are running out of patience.

Contractors, on the other hand, have asked them to continue the negotiations.

If the dispute is not resolved, it is likely to escalate in the near future as the number of construction workers is expected to grow rapidly.

The Limassol chamber of commerce and industry (Keve) said last week that thousands of construction workers will be needed to complete the many development projects underway.

The head of Limassol Keve, Costas Galatariotis, told the media he expected around 6,000 workers to flock into Limassol in 2019. He said that five foreign companies involved in development projects in Limassol over the next 20 months will be needing a total of 3,000 construction workers, while an additional staff of around 2,500 will be needed for the city’s casino and another 800 to work in the two new hotels.

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