Dockers in Cyprus’s second city of Limassol went on strike Monday in protest at government privatization plans, effectively shutting down the island’s largest port.
Trade unions voted to stop work indefinitely until port employees receive cast-iron guarantees that their jobs will be secure under the government’s plans to hand over its operation to private firms.
The plans are part of a raft of reforms that the government pledged to carry out in return for a 10-billion-euro bailout by international creditors. The necessary legislation is due to be put before parliament on Thursday.
The dockers’ unions urged lawmakers to postpone the debate until their demands have been met.
Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said he was “surprised” by the strike action, which he called unnecessary, because employees have been assured their job rights will not be violated. “All those employed now will keep their rights… There is no reason to strike,” Demetriades told state radio CyBC.
The island has a smaller container terminal in Larnaca to the east but the one in Limassol is much the bigger and a key point of entry for imports to the island.