The pampered workers of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), having failed to impose their diktats on the government with work stoppages and day strikes have announced they would be stepping up their measures from Wednesday. The main measure, that could lead to power cuts over the Christmas period, is the refusal of staff to work on the six turbines at Dhekelia power station, which produce about a combined 360 megawatts of power per day.

In addition, the unions will impose a work to rule regime, supposedly to underline the understaffing they have been complaining about. Every worker will stick to doing what is in his/her job description and will not work under acting supervisors as had been the case so far. This will cause long delays to the services provided such as connections to the grid, repairs and maintenance work. As for the Dhekelia turbines they are not only important for covering the country’s needs, they are also vital to the stability of EAC’s power generation.

EAC union bosses said they decided to step up their measures because energy minister Natasa Pilides had failed to respond to the letter they had send her on November 14, listing all their demands and expecting she would accept all of them. In the letter announcing their measures to the general manager of the EAC, union bosses said the “behaviour of the energy minister has exceeded every boundary, with regard to the serious problems facing the EAC.” This is the arrogance of people accustomed to always getting their way. What would have been correct ministerial behaviour for the union bosses? Immediate acceptance of all their demands by the minister?

Many of the demands of the unions are the exclusive responsibility of the authority’s board and executives. Union bosses have neither the expertise nor the authority top decide how many workers should be hired (they demand 370 extra staff), when a power station will be upgraded, and how the EAC will develop renewable energy sources. The EAC is not owned by its workers nor is it worker’s cooperative as the union bosses seem to think; we are not living in a dictatorship of the proletariat yet, even though this the impression given.

Pilides said on Thursday the claims of the unions did not reflect reality, also pointing out, in relation to the refusal to work at the Dhekelia station, “we are no longer talking about a strike, but a refusal to execute their duties.” She said she was in contact with the energy regulator and would make every effort to ensure there were no power cuts. We hope she will not ensure this by giving in to the union blackmail, which, to use the union phrase, “has exceeded every boundary.”