Limassol port workers call off strike

Limassol Port

Staff employed by Limassol porters decided to call off strike measures to press for €1.5 million in voluntary redundancy compensation be paid to them now and not next year when the port will be privatised.

The decision came after the workers were threatened with dismissal, state broadcaster CyBC reported, while the government had warned it would not tolerate action that hurt the state.

Earlier on Tuesday, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades asked workers to get serious, saying their demands were unacceptable.

It was unheard of for people to receive compensation while they were still employed, the minister said.

They are expected to stop working early next year when the port is privatised.

“Someone cannot, without leaving their job, receive the amount (for compensation),” he said.

The amount for voluntary redundancy compensation was recently raised from the original €1m to €1.5m, meaning each worker will bag €24,000.

Licensed porters will each net at least €500,000 in exchange for abolishing their profession.

Speaking on state radio, the minister branded their behaviour as unacceptable saying “we will not accept this, for the sake of the rest of Cyprus. We’re talking about an economy that can’t be held captive by the behaviour of certain employees.

“If strikes continue without any substantive reasons we will need to re-evaluate our stance,” he said with the idea of regulating strikes not being far from reality.

In a letter to Galimento, the company offering services to the port until a private investor takes over, Demetriades told them to take all necessary measures to restore operations at Limassol port or else their agreement would be discontinued.

As the services are not being provided at the moment, then the ministry has to deal with the company, he said.

The decision had been unanimous, according to Timotheou by some 40 employees that attended the meeting.

Demetriades said on Friday alone when they held a strike seven ships set to dock to Limassol port had to go elsewhere, with constant strikes costing the economy way too much.

“When you reach an agreement agreed by the unions you can’t come and make additional demands.”

The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) said the only long-term solution to the problem is implementing a bill to regulate strikes in essential services as the employees have paralysed Limassol port with strikes that have become common and are held for any excuse.

Deputy director of the Employers and Industrialists Federation OEV, Costas Christofides said the strike had badly affected both importers and exporters, and criticised politicians for not demonstrating sufficient resolve to tackle problems caused by frequent strike action at the Limassol port.

“Earlier this year we presented political parties a draft bill based on international practices that help regulate strikes in important areas of the economy but we saw no response from them yet,” he said.

“All these things happening are insane,” SEK union official Pantelis Stavrou said, adding that protesting business people are right to complain. “Unions are there to build, not to destroy. And in this particular case, striking workers at the port are destroying.
“If workers believe that they can arbitrarily hijack the ports, this is pure blackmail of the economy and the society,” he added.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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