Cyprus Mail

CyBC unions expose ‘disturbing’ workplace conditions

Journalist Evdokia Loizou, CyBC, RIK
Journalist Evdokia Loizou (Christos Theodorides)

CyBC employees endured ‘disturbing’ conditions at their workplace, including attacks from fleas and encounters with animal faeces, three trade unions of the state broadcaster revealed on Friday.

Poor working conditions persist according to the unions, that referred to an increase of sick building syndrome cases.

In a written statement, the three unions of CyBC strongly opposed the appeal by the state broadcaster against the court decision to compensate journalist Evdokia Loizou, who contracted viral encephalitis from her working conditions.

They noted that the amount of compensation awarded, however large it may seem, is the minimum price for the channel’s indifference and, by extension, that of the state.

Two weeks ago, CyBC was ordered by the Nicosia District Court to pay €925,000 in damages along with VAT, interest, and legal fees to Loizou. Since then, the state broadcaster appealed the decision, however the president stepped in and prevented CyBC from proceeding with the appeal.

In their statement on Friday, the unions first express their apology to Evdokia Loizou, who was left alone to fight for her vindication when it should have been a shared battle.

“We are certain that her struggle was long, arduous, and painful. Our employer, CyBC, as well as we, as representatives of the workers, found it extremely difficult to relate her illness, as well as the illnesses of other colleagues, to the unique, deteriorated environment of our professional space. The outcome primarily vindicates her, but it also demonstrates to everyone the seriousness with which health issues should be addressed,” they state.

The unions note that it has not been long since, due to increased microbial loads, CyBC classified workspaces as “red” and arranged for visits to pulmonologists for the employees.

They state that CyBC personnel often faced attacks from fleas and encountered cat and rodent faeces. Although the situation improved due to the actions of both the security officer and the responsible administration with the limited funds available to them, the side effects of a sick building cannot be eliminated, as even today, humidity, mould, and odour often appear in the workspace.

They stress that the construction of new building facilities is an urgent need and recall the fact that during the period of the “red rooms,” when the issue had reached the public sphere, MPs “hesitantly” entered the building and boldly stated that the state must proceed with the erection of new building facilities for CyBC.

With a court decision now, the unions continue, RIK’s building has been designated as sick, and now RIK, as well as particularly the state, which for years chose to overlook the unhealthy working conditions at the institution, is called upon to pay the bill.

“The condemning conclusion of Eudokia’s lawsuit against CyBC is also a condemnation of the state’s perennial handling of the CyBC building issue,” they stressed.

In October 2020, an agreement was made between trade unions, CyBC, and the Ministry of Interior in which outstanding amounts owed to millions were written off for the state broadcaster’s staff, with the condition, among others, that CyBC proceed with the planning and construction of new building facilities.

But change happens when an issue comes to light, the unions said, and noted that as trade unions they have always advocated for bolder interventions in the provision of healthy working conditions, both by the employer and by the ‘distant’ state. They said their appeals fell to ‘deaf ears’, adding that in the last year when there was an increase and outbreak of serious illnesses at CyBC. However, the demand of the staff for an epidemiological study was once again met with the usual response from the state broadcaster, which cited a lack of relevant funds.

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