CYPRUS: Hellenic Bank employees ready to strike on October 11

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Cyprus’ banking system is in for a bumpy ride as staff at Hellenic are preparing to strike on Friday over a pay dispute with management.

ETYK banking employees’ union has called for a 24-hour strike at Hellenic Bank, demanding that employers conform to obligations deriving from renewing the collective agreement.

It is calling on banks to pay out annual compensation and the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) with the employers adamant on changing the way staff are rewarded.

ETYK is citing the intervention of Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou, who, according to the union, "has clearly stated that management is obligated to grant the annual compensations and COLA under existing agreements".

There are also fears Hellenic is at the forefront of abolishing several employee benefits linked to automatic pay rises, pay grades, annual compensation and the existing promotion system.

Hellenic Bank argues there is a need to change the outdated system of automatic increases which fails to reward capable and productive staff.

Hellenic’s CEO Ioannis Matsis has expressed the view that the system of “automatic increase” not in tune with the times.

"You have to reward performance rather than blindly increasing everyone’s salary, without taking into account productivity."

Michalis Antoniou, Director-General Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists, called for sober and calm reactions as the banking sector cannot afford being hit by industrial action.

The Labour Minister intends to mediate to avoid strike action.

Emilianidou is in consultation with senior bank executives and ETYK, conducting an informal dialogue to find common ground on controversial issues such as pay and promotions.