A meeting chaired by Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela on Monday afternoon did not succeed in averting a two-hour strike by doctors and nurses at state hospitals scheduled for Tuesday.
The minister had convened a meeting between himself, as mediator, officials of the state health services organisation (Okypy) and trade unions representing staff at state hospitals.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, citing sources within the health ministry after the meeting, the two-hour work stoppage will go ahead as scheduled from 8.30am to 10.30am on Tuesday.
However, Okypy has reportedly agreed to submit a counter-proposal to the unions’ demands by early next week – in a bid to stave off further industrial action.
The strike action is intended to exert pressure on Okypy for having certain collective agreements renewed.
Asked about this earlier in the day, Hadjipantela said he would try to hammer out a compromise.
“At the health ministry, we believe we can solve problems through dialogue and not strikes. This has been my motto ever since I was appointed health minister,” he told journalists.
In a joint statement last week, the unions had said they were taking the action because Okypy – their employer – had not kept up its obligations in drawing up a new collective agreement for staff.
The issue concerns renewing the collective agreement for staff hired on individual contracts that were set to expire at the end of December 2022. Although the matter does not involve all workers at state hospitals, unions have decided to stand in solidarity by planning a strike by the entirety of staff.
The syndicates argue that Okypy is the only semi-governmental organisation in Cyprus without a collective agreement for a large number of workers, “who remain without rights, experiencing labour uncertainty and insecurity.”
The unions said they had earlier given fair warning to Okypy that the matter should have been resolved within November. Okypy had failed to take any action.
“The organisation [Okypy] had been warned not to drag its feet on such a serious matter impacting a large number of workers,” the statement read.