Cyprus Mail

Prison guards call off strike but reject government offer (Updated)

Isotita prison guards on strike last month (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

Prison guard members of Isotita union on Wednesday rejected the government’s proposal regarding their pay grades, saying however that they would suspend strike action for the next three months as a sign of good faith.
The union’s statement, issued after an urgent union meeting, came hours after civil servant union Pasydy expressed satisfaction over the proposals, which “largely cover the personnel’s demands”. In fact, Isotita members said that of their three requests, President Nicos Anastasiades’ proposal only touches on one.

The core of the prison guards’ demands is that that their civil service pay bracket be upgraded from A2 5-7 to A3 5-7, but they also ask for their simultaneous placement at the point of the combined scales that would be found if increments were not suspended for five consecutive years, and that they receive a grant of €240.
According to the statement, the proposal satisfies only the first, and not even fully, since a special allowance of only €120 was offered.

“For the members of the branch, this amount is humiliating and does not correspond to the special conditions of the profession,” it said.

Pasydy’s announcement also called off a 48-hour ‘warning’ strike originally planned for Thursday, which was announced on Monday after the government did not submit counter-proposals on time within a dispute-resolution process.

Prison personnel were due to go on strike from 7am on Thursday to 7am on Saturday.

This was initially announced after over two weeks of protests over prison guards’ pay grades, during which they claimed the justice ministry had promised them upgraded salaries – a claim disputed by Justice Minister Stephie Dracou herself.

“Pasydy’s leadership worked methodically, gave the necessary time and room for dialogue with the government and at the right moment showed determination to reach positive developments and to avoid strike measures,” a written statement said.

The statement added that the government’s proposals were accepted by the majority of the union’s prison staff branch, which “confirms its actions were correct”, also saying that general secretary Stratis Mattheou has also briefed union Isotita on the proposals.

About this, Isotita said that the fact its leadership was informed of the proposal by Pasydy and not the government, as it should have been, and that it was not delivered in writing, “raises questions on the proposal’s actual contents”.
Regarding the suspension of strike measures, the union states that the decision was taken unanimously, clarifying however that this does not mean an end to strike measures, just a three-month suspension lasting until Friday January 13 2023.
“If there is no satisfactory progress by then, on this date a new union meeting will be held, to lift the suspension of the strike measures and kickstart dynamic mobilisations,” the statement concluded.

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