Bus drivers in Limassol got behind the wheel on Friday, suspending a strike following a meeting between trade union representatives and the ministers of labour and transport.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, executives from Emel bus company as well as union leaders from PEO and SEK met on Thursday with Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou and Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastasiadou. After the meeting, Emilianidou spoke about labour demands on the part of bus drivers but also communication issues between the company and government officials.
“We were able to overcome together some of the issues, so that this issue also is taken care of,” Emiliniadou said.
According to media reports, bus drivers were satisfied with the way the issues were being handled to the point they could get behind the wheel. The government said it would honour their demand to reinstate job benefits that had been rolled back after the 2013 financial crisis. Salaries for the month of March were also to be paid Thursday and Friday, while a 60-day framework had been agreed to iron out some technical issues.
The government said it would honour their demand to reinstate job benefits that had been rolled back after the 2013 financial crisis
According to Emel CEO Yiorgos Kyriacou, who also made statements to the press, all sides agreed to a 60-day timeframe in order to iron out some details as to which parts of salary cuts would be reinstated.
“But this won’t prevent Emel in these two months to manage its liquidity issues,” he said.
Kyriacou also acknowledged that many problems were caused in the past and they could not be dealt with in 24 hours, adding that he expected changes would allow the bus company to function properly.
“They did not disagree that these are real issues. It appears theat there is goodwill but in this game one ought to wait until the very end,” Kyriacou said.
The strike which lasted two days caused major problems in Limassol, including students who relied on public transport to get to school and back home. Similar action in Nicosia and Larnaca had been scheduled to take place but strike was averted after the companies accepted similar deals. Anastasiadou explained that each company was difeerent and had to be handled differently.
The government has said repeatedly that bus companies need to “own up” to their obligations to negotiate with their employees and clarify employment terms with drivers.
But Emilianidou said she was aware that bus drivers were not fully satisfied with the agreement, with the labour minister adding that the contracts with the bus companies and the government will end in June 2020.
“The employees were seeking their pay, they wanted everyone to abide by the agreements, and I thanked them for it,” Emilianidou said.
“Everyone worked together to maintain labour peace, and we shall move forward,” the labour minster said.