An indefinite strike at the Larnaca port was called off on Wednesday, after the workers and the managing company Kition agreed to meet with each other under the auspices of the labour minister.

“The volatility abroad makes it necessary to preserve stability within the country, for which consultation and cooperation between the social partners of employers and workers is essential,” said an announcement from Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou, adding the strike was called off.

“I expect all sides to act with maturity and responsibility, in accordance with the provisions of the code of labour relations and in the public interest, for the normalisation of labour relations and the protection of industrial peace,” he said.

Earlier, workers from the Larnaca port’s operational department had declared an indefinite strike over a dispute regarding working hours and overtime.

Trade union Segdamelin Peo’s Larnaca secretary-general Nadia Kyritsi said that contractor Kition Ocean Port had been “violating” agreements signed together with the workers.

She added that instead of using its own staff to work overtime, the company is employing “external contractors” to fill gaps.

Kition Ocean Holdings however called the strike “unwarranted” and “unjustified.” It specified it was a small fraction of workers that went on strike but charged there was no prior warning and did not adhere to the Industrial Relations Code procedures.

“While we fully respect the workers’ right to strike, it must be conducted in accordance with the law, following legal procedures. Any disregard for these legal processes causes serious disruption to the port’s operations and significant financial damages.”

Kyritsi referred to an agreement struck on February 9, which effectively gives the port’s regular workers first refusal on overtime outside their regular working hours of 7.30am to 3.30pm.

Only if the workers have given a negative response in writing can Kition then use other workers to fill the gaps.

Trade union representatives met with Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades and Panayiotou on Wednesday after which the strike was called off.

Speaking after the meeting, Kyritsi claimed Kition had committed “serious violations” and that she had asked the government to invite the various stakeholders to address the various issues “plaguing the workers at the Larnaca port”.

She added that a further meeting at the labour ministry will take place next Tuesday but said the port “cannot remain closed until then”.

“Arrangements must be made so that this labour dispute can be resolved, and normality can be restored,” she said.

Vafeades stressed the matter of the strike is not related to the ongoing dispute between the government and Kition regarding the payment of a guarantee for renovations on the Larnaca port and marina to begin.

“In our view, it is not connected,” he said, adding that as far as that dispute is concerned, “we are clarifying what the next steps are to be able to protect the public interest.”