Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Pasydy says back-to-work notice gave parents no warning

The union said abolishing the special leave for children's care was a rushed decision

Unions representing public-sector workers have slammed the government for what they say is an out-of-the-blue change in policy that will force them to return to work, having been given no time to make arrangements for their children’s care.

On Friday, the finance ministry issued a notice abolishing at once the special arrangements to which public-sector employees had to date been entitled due to the closure of kindergartens and schools over the coronavirus situation.

The special leave concerned parents with children up to the age of 15, or with children with special needs of all ages. It was granted to one of the parents, and to persons unable to work from home or work on a flexible schedule.

In a statement, main civil servants union Pasydy complained that the notice announcing the policy change was released on a Friday, during ‘idle time’, catching parents by surprise, since they were supposed to return to work normally by the next working day – this Monday.

The union also said the decision was taken two weeks before the end of the current school year – slated for June 26 – whereas previous government notices had said these facilities to parents would remain in place until the end of the school year.

Pasydy said it would protest in writing to the finance ministry, calling on it to reverse the new policy. It further noted that private kindergartens and nurseries would continue to operate on an alternate basis throughout the summer.

“Therefore we shall be pointing out that abolishing the special leave for children’s care is a rushed decision which will potentially create serious problems for the affected parents and children,” it noted.

Likewise the union of public sector contract workers known as Isotita (Equality) said the policy change had caught them unawares.

“Acting contradictorily and in bad faith in relation to its prior decision, and as if the ministry of education belonged to a different state, they are now telling us they have changed their mind and that they don’t care what we do with our children,” Isotita said.

The union said affected parents are now left with no choice but to leave their children with their grandparents, risking the latter’s health.

“Alternatively, to commit a criminal offence by leaving our children unattended; or, to take our children with us to work.”

The syndicate said it would urge all members to take their children to work with them.

It would be reporting the government’s conduct to both the ombudswoman and the child commissioner.

“We are issuing a call to other trade unions to mobilize in order to take dynamic measures against the unilateral and arbitrary decisions of the employer (the government),” the statement ended.


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