There was never a commitment to upgrade pay grades for prison guards, Justice Minister Stephie Dracou said on Tuesday as affected members of Isotita union continued their indefinite strike with a demo outside the finance ministry.
“We never committed to upgrading pay grades as claimed by Isotita union, we just promoted their demand for a discussion at the ministry of finance,” Dracou said.
This followed the justice ministry’s official statement on Monday calling the strike “unnecessary, hasty and unjustified.”
Moreover, the ministry had said that the Isotita union had failed to respond to an invitation to meet its director for a meeting in the past week to further discuss their demands, instead opting for a strike.
“Any attempt to create impressions and a climate of extortion does not contribute to solving the problem nor is it acceptable to the ministry,” it added.
It also said that prison guards of the Pasydy union had opted to attend said meeting.
Branding the ministry’s statement as “mostly untruthful”, Isotita members on Monday had said that consultations had taken place and were completed by March 2022, “…with a promise to upgrade our salaries as has been done with the salaries of police officers and promotion of our request for a special allowance”.
Isotita has said a promise was made to them by the director general of the justice ministry Louis Panayis on behalf of minister Dracou to increase their salaries.
They are also protesting the finance ministry’s decision to reject their request for a special allowance even after it was recommended by the justice ministry.
Ιn addition, they demand the recognition of all their years of previous service.
Strikers have also called for a meeting with Finance Minister Contantinos Petrides but this has been turned down.
The protest will move to the presidential palace on Wednesday.
President of Isotita Prodromos Christofi said that “We know that prison guards are underpaid in relation to their actual contribution. What we seek is to provide them with what we consider they deserve.
“As things stand, we will continue the strike indefinitely until both our demands are satisfied. We are open for a discussion provided there is a commitment in writing on how the dispute will be resolved. Verbal assurances do not satisfy us,” he concluded.
Pasydy on Tuesday said that it is ready to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the finance ministry to find the arrangements that will restore normalcy to this sensitive sector.