The Electricity Authority (EAC) board of directors on Tuesday called on workers to reconsider their decision to strike later in the week, to avoid inconveniencing the public.
“In an international environment of energy uncertainty, with electricity prices being set outside of EAC’s control, no further tension or pressure should be created at the expense of consumers,” an announcement said.
Earlier in the day, EAC union general secretary Kyriakos Tafounas said electricity authority workers will go on a ‘warning’ strike this Thursday.
The strike will take place between 11am and 12 noon outside workers’ offices. The unions also intend to proceed with an all-day strike on November 23 if their demands are not addressed.
The board of directors said they were not in support of the strike as its measures would inconvenience the public and hurt EAC.
“The board of directors and the management serve one purpose, to help EAC face the great challenges that lie ahead and respond to its mission as the stable pillar of energy supporting the progress of our country,” the statement added.
Tafounas explained that in a series of letters they had informed all pertinent authorities of the serious problems concerning the EAC, safety and health of staff, the cost of electricity, and timely and effective service for consumers.
“Staff are disappointed and displeased,” the union rep said with the continued inactivity in the resolution of these matters.
But the board said it had encouraged unions to participate in an open dialogue through a series of meetings.
The last meeting was held on Friday.
A core union demand is the opening up of 370 job positions, including mechanics and network specialists. The finance ministry’s budget, however, greenlighted only 145 positions.
Renewable energy sources are also a source of contention, as unions demand that any interference by other state services should be scrapped so EAC can diversify its energy offerings and reduce the cost of production.
The Dhekelia power plant is an additional sticking point, with the union claiming it is being mishandled, demanding the outdated and cost-inefficient units to be upgraded.
The cost of emission fines from Dhekelia – a strategically located station for the grid – Tafounas said, is currently having to be passed on to consumers, hampering EAC from lowering the price of electricity.
Tafounas further criticised the move to demote EAC from being the sole supervisor of electrical installations, saying that for years EAC staff have provided this service free of charge and that the move weakens safety standards for consumers and anyone connected to the grid.
The union complaints come as the industry is set for a significant shakeup – although the ever-elusive date for opening up the electricity market appears to have been pushed back to 2023.