State hospital workers are set to go on strike in October after unions and the state health services organisation (Okypy) failed to reach an agreement regarding collective labour and pay rises.

Six trade unions, Sek, Peo, Pasydy, Deok, Pasyki, and Pasyno, stated their intent for public hospitals to go on strike on October 25 and called on Okypy to “not delay further” efforts to reach an agreement.

The decision to proceed with strike measures was reached during a joint meeting, where the unions accused Okypy of displaying a dismissive attitude towards its employees and the trade union movement.

They also alleged obstructionism within the organisation, while highlighting inconsistencies in Okypy’s past commitments.

However, Okypy denies this, with spokesman Charalambos Charilaou telling the Cyprus Mail that discussions regarding a new agreement had been going on since the beginning of July and that the organisation has been clear on the parameters it has set.

“The unions want the agreements and pay rises to be exactly the same as they were when they were employed as public sector workers, but this is not possible”, he said.

He said any agreement must conform to four specific parameters, but that unions have not yet accepted this.

The parameters in question are that agreements and pay rises comply with the relevant legislation ascertaining to Okypy, that they are feasible within Okypy’s financial situation, that they are competitive in comparison to the private sector, and that they are based on evaluations of workers.

Charilaou added that he hopes the unions will “engage in a constructive dialogue” rather than resort to strike action, adding that the organisation is “ready to speak with workers.”

If an agreement is not found, he said, plans for dealing with the loss of workers on October 25 will be put into place to ameliorate the situation for patients.

Earlier, the unions had said they evaluated the ongoing discussions with Okypy over the past two years, concluding that the organisation “has maintained a dismissive attitude towards its employees and the trade union movement.”

“Furthermore, Okypy has been inconsistent in its commitments to both employee representatives and relevant government officials,” they said.

The unions emphasised that the organisation’s stance contradicts established regulations governing labour relations and employment terms.

“Additionally, it runs contrary to the government’s stated policy and commitment to the European Union to expand the coverage and protection of employees through collective agreements,” the statement continued.

Recalling an incident that took place in January 2023, involving former health minister Michalis Hadjipantela and the current director general of the health ministry Christina Yiannaki, the union said that a technical committee was established to deal with issues between officials and employees’ representatives.

According to the unions, one of the reasons behind the planned strike next month is “Okypy’s persistent refusal to discuss the findings of the technical committee.”

“In addition to that, we need to highlight Okypy’s reluctance to make a fundamental decision on whether it accepts the negotiation of a collective labour agreement consistent with the terms of public-sector employment.

“In light of these circumstances, the trade unions have resolved to take strike action on October 25,” the statement said.

Additionally, the unions also said they will set up general assemblies at various locations, involving all their members employed in state hospitals and central offices of Okypy, to inform their members about the ongoing situation and determine the extent of forthcoming strike actions.