Cyprus: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019
Strikes by electricity workers and the labour crisis that hit Hellenic Bank are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Cyprus in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Electricity Authority of Cyprus employees go on strike
Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) employees held a two-hour working strike on 31 October followed by an eight-hour work stoppage on 7 November. Workers undertook the actions took place after no progress was made by the government on a number of work-related issues with the exception of governmental decisions on the dividends policy for sustainability. 
The sectoral trade unions – the Free Pancyprian Organisation of EAC Personnel (Epopai), the Union of EAC Scientific Personnel (Sepaik), the Local Authority Workers’ and Employees’ Trade Union (Sidikek) and the Union of EAC Shift Workers (Syvaik) – say the EAC Board breached the collective agreements and demanded the implementation of the administrative court decision on the return of the pay cuts imposed since 2012. The government disagrees with the administrative court’s decision and has filed an appeal with the supreme court. 
Trade unions are also requesting to keep their private healthcare insurance scheme after the full implementation of the National Health Scheme in June 2020, as well as the re-introduction of the provident fund scheme for the new entrants and for employees with indefinite labour contracts. 
After the strikes, the parties committed to a conflict resolution procedure. The outcome of the negotiations and the supreme court’s decision on the pay cuts are expected by the end of January 2020.
Industrial unrest at Hellenic Bank
Hellenic Bank employees went on a 24-hour strike on 11 October. According to the Cyprus Union of Bank Employees (ETYK), the reasons for the strike include the non-payment of the annual pay increases and the cost of living allowances (COLA), the inclusion of the former Co-operative Bank employees in the wage scales of Hellenic Bank, and the bank's decision to introduce a new evaluation and promotion system without the necessary consultation with ETYK. The strike was supported by the other two sectoral unions – Pancyprian Federation of Services’ Workers (PASEY-PEO) and the Cyprus Workers Confederation (SEK).
The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance made efforts to create the necessary conditions for dialogue, but there was a significant gap among the positions of the two sides. In a public dispute, ETYK accused the Hellenic Bank of refusing to comply with the instructions made by the Minister of Labour and Social Security regarding the implementation of the collective agreement. The bank said that it has been calling for dialogue for months but the union had not responded. 
The day before the scheduled strike, the bank took the union by surprise and announced pay increases based on the performance of each employee. The basis for the pay increases is different from what had been agreed in the collective agreement. The announcement sparked a strong reaction from ETYK, which called on the minister to take legal action against the bank.
Meanwhile, the dialogue to resolve the conflict is currently in process and is expected to conclude by the end of January 2020.
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