Trade unions on Monday expressed their concern over what they described as workplace bullying ahead of negotiations for collective agreements, saying hotels were pressuring staff to drop their union memberships if they want to keep their jobs.

General secretary of the hotel branch for Sek union Miltiades Miltiadou told the Cyprus Mail they had sent a letter to the labour ministry co-signed with Peo, calling for the permits of third-country nationals to be recalled for three hotels in Paphos.

The reasons behind this, according to Miltiadou, are because the specific hotels are accused of trying to pressure local staff to drop their union membership. He claims staff are told that if they don’t leave their unions, they may be fired or alternatively, not rehired during busy season.

Miltiadou said this was part of the hotels’ attempt to rid itself of local employees, so as to take advantage of permits to hire third-country nationals, likely on lower pay.

He added this was taking place ahead of negotiations set to begin soon as collective agreements are expiring at the end of this year.

In March this year, cabinet decided to raise the percentage of third country nationals allowed to be employed by some business sectors from 30 to 50 per cent of the total workforce to the ire of unions who say the rules are unfair and misguided.