Port workers staged a precautionary four-hour strike on Tuesday in a warning to the government not to ignore their requests to be included as candidates to undertake the running of the island’s ports once they change hands.
Workers at the island’s main ports in Limassol and Larnaca say that they will stage a 48-hour strike as of January 18 if their calls continue to fall on deaf ears. Tuesday’s mini-protest – a precursor to what they warn will be a far longer demonstration – got underway at 6am and finished at 10am.
A number of employees are expected to be made redundant once the ports’ commercial operations are handed over to private operators. The privatisation of commercial operations at the two ports is an obligation stemming from the bailout deal between Cyprus and international creditors troika.
Workers unions have been continuously looking at ways to safeguard jobs and putting themselves forward as candidates for the operations management of the ports is – they say – one way to go.
Speaking to state radio on Tuesday morning, Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) employees’ union chairman Demetris Patsalos said the government needed to take their request more seriously
“On December 14 last year, we had sent a letter to the Communications Ministry in which we had offered our services – as workers of the port – to undertake the operations of the ports once the ownership changes hands.”
“The government had told us that it was not possible because it was would violate competition laws.”
He added: “When we later discovered that the provisions of the new ports called for a new operations system we wrote to the ministry in a bid to once again offer our services. We have received no reply so we therefore went ahead with a precautionary protest in a bid to get their attention.”
“Rather than for the workers to be left without jobs, we are willing to vacate our positions and be rehired on a contract basis so that we can be eligible to apply for the tender as the group representing former workers of the ports.”