Social workers announced on Friday they had indefinitely suspended their on-call service.

The service will not be resumed until every social worker who has been seconded from the social welfare service to work in other government departments is returned, they said.

Speaking to CyBC radio on Friday, trade union Pasydy’s social workers’ branch secretary Konstantinos Kambourakos said a total of 10 social workers have been seconded and have been “out of service for a very long time”.

In addition, he said the service would require an additional 125 new hires to cover its existing needs.

He also clarified that the suspension of the on-call service “does not impact the daily operations” of social workers’ offices.

Director-general of the social welfare deputy ministry Yiannis Nicolaides said the workers had taken their decision “lightly” and “without warning”.

He also disputed Kambourakos’ figures, saying only five social workers have been seconded to other government departments.

Additionally, he said the on-call service is “very important”, as “it acts as the social service’s first aid.

“For example, if a child is being abused, they will try to notify social services, and because the social workers have suspended their work, the child will not reach anyone,” he said.

He went on to say the government is in the process of filling 20 vacant positions which are set out in the social welfare department’s existing structure.

He called on the workers to reconsider their decision and “proceed, if they wish, with other forms of protest”.