First collective agreement signed between workers and airport group
In November 2006, the first company-level collective agreement was signed between the ground staff at Larnaka and Pafos Airports and the French-led group Hermes Airports. The latter is the new operator of both airports and responsible for the construction works of new terminals at these airports. The two-year agreement, which addresses both pay and non-pay issues, does not cover hourly paid civil service aviation staff. Such personnel are covered by the existing agreement in force until the date that the two airports are fully assigned to the new strategic investor.
On 27 November 2006, the first company-level collective agreement was signed between Hermes Airports Ltd and ground service personnel at Larnaca (Larnaka) Airport in the south of Cyprus and Paphos (Pafos) Airport in the southwest of the island. The agreement, which will be in force for 2007–2008, was signed by a company representative and by representatives of the three trade union organisations operating in the company: DEEKDOKO (Δημοκρατική Εργατοϋπαλληλική Ένωση Κυβερνητικών Ωρομισθίων Εργατών και Υπαλλήλων Δημοσίων Υπηρεσιών), affiliated to the Democratic Labour Federation of Cyprus (Δημοκρατική Εργατική Ομοσπονδία Κύπρου, DΕΟΚ); the Federation of Government, Military and Civil Services Workers (Ομοσπονδία Εργατοϋπαλλήλων Κυβερνητικοστρατιωτικών & Δημοσίων Υπηρεσιών Κύπρου, OEKDY), affiliated to the Cyprus Workers’ Confederation (Συνομοσπονδία Εργαζομένων Κύπρου, SEK); and PASYEK (Παγκύπρια Συντεχνία Κυβερνητικών-Στρατιωτικών και Κοινωνικών Ιδρυμάτων), affiliated to the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (Παγκύπρια Εργατική Ομοσπονδία, PΕΟ).
Employment options for staff
The two airports are currently in a transition phase due to their assignment to Hermes Airports as a strategic investor; thus, it is not possible to estimate the total number of workers covered by the agreement. Based on the restructuring plan and the agreement to assign ground services to the investor company, it was decided to offer those civil service aviation staff who are paid on an hourly basis and employed in such services – amounting to approximately 700 employees – the following alternatives:
- to opt for voluntary redundancy with compensation;
- to be placed in another civil service post;
- to remain with the investor company, but under the terms and conditions of employment in force until the date that the two airports are fully assigned to Hermes Airports.
The existing staff reserve the right to make a choice until work on the two airports is completed in an estimated three years for Larnaka and two years for Pafos. In this connection, civil service staff who are paid on an hourly basis are excluded from the new agreement, and the total number of staff to be employed under the new terms will depend largely on the number of existing staff taking voluntary redundancy.
According to a representative of PASYEK-PEO, it is equally difficult to estimate the number of new jobs that will be created, since there is already a pool of around 250 seasonal employees who – according to the company’s stated intention – will be selected first to fill permanent jobs.
Pay and non-pay elements of agreement
As regards the pay-related part of the agreement, provision is made for increases of about 2.25% in 2007 and 2.75% in 2008. Both increases are calculated on pay as it stands at 31 December 2006 and 2007 respectively. A total of four pay scales are defined when calculating pay and, in addition to the annual increments paid on 1 April each year, an indexed allowance is also paid every January and July, set by the government. Apart from salaries, overtime is calculated based on double pay for public holidays and weekends and one and a half times the normal rate of pay for all other cases. Staff working shifts are granted a 20% allowance on total emoluments.
In terms of non-pay aspects, the agreement covers a wide range of issues, such as working time, leave and public holidays, duties of specific categories of staff, promotions, healthcare, equipment, and transport to and from the workplace.
Terms and conditions of employment
Of particular importance are the general terms and conditions of employment. Article 1 of the agreement stipulates that staff are employed full time or part time on the basis of the company’s operating needs at any given time, for an indefinite or fixed period in the case of seasonal or other temporary needs. In respect of permanent jobs, the management and trade unions have committed to discuss all matters in relation to staffing – taking into account the new method of work organisation – within three months.
Article 2 provides for a trial period for every employee, set at 52 weeks from the date of hiring, excluding any period of unjustified absence or absence due to illness. During the trial period, the company has the right to terminate an employee’s services at any time, at its absolute discretion; when the trial period has been completed, employees’ appointments will be confirmed, provided that their performance has been satisfactory.
When the ground services market is deregulated, the company’s obligations to the personnel covered by this agreement will be at a legal minimum, and the company will not be obliged to pay any compensation.
Trade union reaction
No comment was forthcoming from the employer side, but the trade union organisations signing the agreement have stated that they are satisfied with the content of the agreement because it makes provision for new staff, whose terms and conditions of employment will not be substantially different from those of civil service ground staff at the airports. The unions are also pleased that the agreement ensures the smooth running of the airports.
Eva Soumeli, Cyprus Labour Institute (INEK-PEO)