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Nicosia bus drivers return to work, call off strike pending new dialogue

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The employees on the march on Wednesday (Christos Theodorides)

Nicosia bus employees returned to work on Thursday, after they temporarily called off their indefinite strike which started last week.

The decision to suspend the strike was announced after a meeting with members of the Sek and Peo trade unions at the Peo trade union confederation headquarters in the capital on Thursday morning.

Peo general secretary Athos Eleftheriou told the Cyprus News Agency after the meeting, that employees returned to work at the Cyprus Public Transport from noon.

This decision opens the way for a dialogue with the ministers of transport and labour to resolve the problems faced by the workers.

Eleftheriou said they had informed Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou of their decision, and the first meeting has been set Monday afternoon.

A workers’ meeting has been set for next Thursday evening, “to be informed of any results we will have,” he added.

According to a joint statement issued by Peo and Sek, the 36 employees who were dismissed are also returning to work after the dismissal letters were withdrawn.

The unions expressed their readiness to negotiate in good faith to resolve all problems to avoid similar unwanted disputes in the future.

They also warned that otherwise, “the workers will have no choice but to assert their claims vigorously”

As stated in their announcement, the main problems concern the timetables, the implementation of existing legislation, particularly in the area of health and safety, adequate infrastructure and others.

Workers also apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers on strike days, for which they “bear no responsibility”, they said.

The news came a day after the Nicosia bus company employees vowed to continue their strike and marched to the transport and labour ministries where they handed over petitions outlining the problems they say need to be addressed.

On Tuesday, the employees had voted by 99 votes to 84 to continue industrial action they started on Friday.

Their Larnaca counterparts had called off their strike on Tuesday, held talks with government officials and the company during which an initial agreement was hammered out.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos as well as the labour ministry had said they are ready to mediate in the dispute at the Nicosia company, but only once strike action has been suspended.

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