Cyprus: Draft legislation to prevent industrial action in essential services
In response to increasing industrial action in the public sector, the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) has filed draft legislation – that regulates the right to strike in essential services – with the President of the Republic and the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance (MLWSI). The OEB has called upon the government to adopt the legislation and submit it for a vote in parliament.
The draft legislation aims to empower the Council of Ministers to declare specific services 'essential' in order to prevent or prohibit a strike that may harm the public interest. The legislation also provides for the prohibition of a number of other forms of action, including the following:
- spontaneous strikes;
- political strikes;
- absence from overtime work.
According to the draft legislation, essential services comprise the following:
- ports and customs;
- state and private medical and pharmaceutical services;
- telephone and radio communications;
- airports and air transfers;
- production and supply of electricity, and water supply;
- security forces – the army, police and fire brigade;
- garbage collection;
- processing and supply of solid, liquid and gas fuel.
The legislation also provides for the establishment of an arbitrators' committee of tripartite representation appointed by the Council of Ministers and comprising four representatives from the trade unions, four from the employer organisations and one from the MLWSI, who will preside over the committee. Any party that rejects this Committee’s decision must wait 30 days after the decision is issued before striking or adopting lock-out measures. Persons found guilty of refusing to perform their work or of preventing others from providing an essential service may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined €10,000. Additionally, in the case of a strike or lock-out, employers must maintain sufficient staff to ensure that a basic level of service can be provided.