Energy Minister Natasa Pilides sounded a note of optimism on Tuesday ahead of Friday’s meeting with trade unions of the Electricity Authority (EAC) who have threatened to strike unless their demands are met.
Attending the Friday meeting will be Pilides, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos acting as mediator, and EAC union reps.
As the minister with the energy portfolio, Pilides is responsible for the EAC, the state-run power company. Petrides holds the purse strings.
Speaking to journalists, the energy minister said she hoped the upcoming meeting would lead to a positive outcome.
She said the issues were both labour related and policy related. The labour minister’s feedback would be on the former.
Pilides seemed open to negotiations with the EAC.
“And where such issues arise, a study should be conducted so as to properly assess the various matters, so that wherever we can satisfy demands, we will, so that the EAC will be able to modernise and become staffed with people so that it can cope with its challenges, which as we mentioned, are many relating to the growth of the grid and the opening up of the competitive market.”
On policy-related matters, the minister suggested that the reaction by EAC workers is misguided because they have misconstrued or misinterpreted the government’s intentions.
“We have tracked certain issues where possibly better communication needs to take place, and where actions have been taken [by the government] which may not have come to the unions’ attention or not been adequately explained to them.”
Pilides said that some of the unions’ concerns are unfounded.
EAC trade unions have threatened to enforce work-to-rule unless the government meets their demands – which relate to the hiring of an additional 370 workers at the state-run power company, the status of the Dhekelia power station, and the EAC’s role in the renewables sector.
Imminent strike action, and power cuts, were averted back in December when Koushos bought the government some time.
Unions agreed to hold off on going on strike and to engage with the finance and energy ministers.