Cyprus Mail

EAC unions say not violating code by striking over pay dispute

EAC workers are demanding that their pay cuts be returned immediately

Electricity company unions rejected suggestions their planned two-hour strike next Thursday over a pay dispute was in violation of the industrial relations code, a day after their announcement prompted the reaction of the labour ministry.

Shortly after the announcement on Wednesday, the labour minister sent them a letter reminding them of the industrial relations code and urging them to show respect.

Zeta Emilianidou informed them they were violating the code and recommended applying for mediation as was customary.

On Thursday, EAC unions rejected they were violating the code, arguing that the minister had already been informed  of the dispute and that the labour relations department had referred them to the finance ministry because they were not issues that were going to be resolved based on the industrial relations code.

The unions demand restoration of their salaries – cut in 2012 in an austerity drive — following a decision of the administrative court and to keep their private healthcare insurance despite the implementation of the national health scheme.

“Consequently … from the moment you said you were not responsible … you have no authority to tell us that we are violating the industrial relations code,” the unions said.

Speaking later, Emilianidou urged everyone to engage in dialogue in a bid to resolve all disputes, not just the one at the EAC.

“I fully respect the right to strike but we must all adhere to the code of industrial relations and engage in dialogue,” the minister said. “I believe the issues can be resolved through good attitude and dialogue.”

Port workers have also announced a 24-hour strike for Friday to protest the management’s delay in signing the collective agreement. The dispute was resolved on Thursday and the action was called off.

Emilianidou also has her hands full with a dispute between bank workers union Etyk and Hellenic Bank.

The minister declined to comment on the matter when asked, saying instead that her effort was to resolve differences and not create more problems.

Etyk staged a 24-hour strike last Friday, demanding the payment of cost of living allowance and annual pay increases worth 3.8 per cent across the board, provided for in a collective agreement that expired in 2018 and never renewed.

Hellenic has made it abundantly clear that it was not willing to renew the collective agreement under the same terms. The bank said it wanted to switch to a system, which rewarded staff according to their performance and not indiscriminately.

For 2019, the lender has unilaterally granted a 2 per cent across-the-board rise retroactively, to include the first 10 months of the year. It has also given performance-based rises and put all co-op staff that it took on board after the latter’s demise on a €1,300 minimum salary.



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