Transport minister Yiannis Karousos on Friday told trade unions representing workers of the Larnaca bus company Zenon they will be paid their December salaries, thus avoiding an indefinite strike they had called to start on Wednesday.
Workers said if they were paid by Tuesday the strike will be called off.
Karousos met with representatives of the unions in the morning and was due to meet the management of the bus company later in the day.
The aim of meeting with the management is to regulate the payroll issue and agree on the payment of other benefits and allowances until the expiry of existing contracts.
Saying the consultations will continue, Karousos said he hoped “we will reach an agreement for the employees, who are not responsible for the dispute”, and a solution by which “neither the workers nor citizens will be harmed by a strike.”
The ministry has paid its debts to the company, including employees’ salaries, the transport minister said, noting the aim was to make sure the employees receive their money.
A company that respects its employees must sit down to discuss and find solutions, he continued, adding that he would make some suggestions to the company in order to resolve this issue “and not have these same stories every month.”
Workers at the Zenon bus company announced an indefinite strike on Thursday over their unpaid salaries for December and because they have not been paid various funds since April 2019.
The island’s four public transport companies, Larnaca’s Zenon, Nicosia’s Osel, Limassol’s Emel, and Paphos bus company Osypa have been staging strikes on and off since late 2018 over non-payment of wages on time, and their demands to have benefits that were cut during the 2013 financial crisis restored.
Last March, the transport ministry said that all bus companies had received overpayments. The biggest chunk of overpayments were a result of setting high the cost per kilometre for which the companies receive a government subsidy too high.
Bus companies said cuts in their subsidies by the government would force them into bankruptcy.
The unions have repeatedly said they are not being paid as a result of financial disagreements between their employers and the government and workers should not be used to resolve the disputes.
They also called on the transport and labour ministry to attempt to resolve the problems once and for all.