THE PLUNDERING of semi-governmental organisations (SGOs) by its employees takes many different forms and the unions always find new ways of doing it. The latest, over which unions of SGOs and those representing local authority employees are threatening industrial action, relates to Gesy contributions. Unions want any saving that an SGO makes from the introduction of Gesy which will reduce their contributions to the healthcare cover they offered their workers before the scheme, to go to the staff.
In other words, if Cyta as the employer, for example, was contributing 5 per cent on each salary for private healthcare cover, with the introduction of the first phase of Gesy Cyta will only have to contribute 1.85 per cent. Unions want the 3.15 per cent difference to go to the workers. There is no rational argument for this, but union bosses say that what they are demanding is included in the collective agreements. They even went as far as to make the claim these were rights that were won over the years!
What right? The right to healthcare cover will be honoured by their employer through Gesy, instead of through a private scheme. If the employer makes savings from the new arrangement that provides workers with the same standard of healthcare, by what logic should these savings go to the staff? The union reasoning is that the cost per worker should remain the same for the employer, even after the introduction of Gesy, and the saving should go to the worker. Perhaps this would not make a difference to Cyta and EAC, even though it is wrong, but cash-strapped, heavily indebted municipalities should benefit from the saving.
One union boss, disingenuously claimed that SGO workers would be making their contributions to Gesy every month like all workers and did not expect special treatment. Yet the truth is that if the employer’s saving is passed on to the workers, it will more than cover the worker’s contribution to Gesy. In fact this is what the unions are trying to achieve with this scandalous demand, which they will discuss at a meeting with the president before deciding over whether they will take “dynamic measures” to get their way.
Our cowardly politicians, terrified of displeasing the workers and unions have avoided taking a stand on the matter. Only the auditor-general, Odysseas Michaelides, has quite rightly labelled the demand “provocative and unacceptable”. In fact it is scandalous that unions representing some of the best paid workers in Cyprus have found an allegedly lawful way for their members not to contribute to Gesy. This is perfectly in line with the ongoing plundering of SGOs by its workers as part of the so-called collective agreement.