Workers at the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) on Wednesday said they would ramp up industrial action this month, calling a 24-hour strike for January 16.

The announcement was made jointly by five trade unions shortly after the conclusion of a two-hour strike in the morning.

The Cyta employees disagree with proposed changes to the authority which will affect the permanent status of employees and employee pay scales.

In a statement, the workers said the goal was “to send a strong and clear message in all directions, that the workers are united, we demand respect and that we will stand firm against any effort that may undermine the public character of the organisation.”

The proposal for the update of the institution calls for an increase in private contract workers and purchase of services and reduced pay scales for new hires.

“[This] final proposal cannot be accepted, because above all it endangers [Cyta’s] public character [as a semi-state entity],” the unions said.

Moreover, it expressed disappointment with the messaging presenting the proposed restructure as an upgrade, claiming it to be “full of inaccuracies.”

Speaking outside Cyta’s offices in Paphos, technical supervisor Aristos Aristodemou said “we will not tolerate this attempt to undermine Cyta’s public character.”

He added that the aforementioned proposal “circumvents certain issues.

“They are trying to create an issue about the public nature of Cyta and in general about the various rights of Cyta staff,” he said.

He added that Cyta’s administrators did not fill gaps created by workers choosing to retire under the organisation’s voluntary retirement plan, saying they “should have done so long ago.”

Additionally, he said trade unions had come to an agreement with Cyta’s board of directors regarding various perks for the hourly paid but that “in the end, nothing was given.”

The agreement, he said, had been signed in February last year, but almost a year on, no offer had been made to the hourly staff.

He added that the strike had been called “to show that all the staff are united.”

As regards temporary employees, the unions demand a one-time increase of 5.75 per cent on monthly salaries; 0.5 per cent payment of the salary into the medical care fund; a 0.5 per cent social security payment; total working hours corresponding to those of the existing monthly staff; overtime benefits; holidays and sick leave on equal terms and the possibility of advancement with promotions.