Baggage handlers at Larnaca airport held an impromptu two-hour strike on Tuesday morning after 156 staffers were handed redundancy letters.

The workers carried out a spontaneous work stoppage from 10am until 12 noon following a decision taken during a meeting of the workers in the two companies (LGS and Swissport) after more competition was introduced to the ground handling services at the airport, Larnaca District Secretary of trade union Peo Yiorgos Ioulianos said.

He added that originally the decision was to transfer employees from the two companies to positions at the new companies but that this did not happen as 111 employees from LGS and 45 employees from Swissport were informed of their redundancy, instead of being given positions at the new competitor.

“While we were assured by the transport ministry at the three to four meetings we had together, that redundancies would not be made, and there would be full employment of the workers, and instead today we have 150-160 redundancies at both companies,” Ioulianos added.

He said that all they can do is demand their jobs back, which is what they did today.

“Our intention is not to create any problem and inconvenience the passengers,” he said, adding that they took measures to not disrupt traffic at the airport.

Staff at Paphos airport were due to meet later on Tuesday to decide on any action.

Ioulianos said that they will meet with the transport ministry on Wednesday to discuss the issues that have arisen.

The ministry said “today’s work stoppage does not serve any purpose and it was not necessary, in view of tomorrow’s meeting of the minister of transport and the competent services of the ministry of labour and social insurance with all those involved, which was planned from yesterday.”

In September after ground staff company LGS lost its contract at the airports staff called an impromptu strike at Paphos airport over fears they would be made redundant. Their union claimed the jobs of 70 workers at Paphos airport and 40 at Larnaca airport were at risk.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said at the time the rights of workers of companies offering ground services at Cyprus airports were protected, explaining that redundant employees would be given priority when new contractors were hiring staff.