Last-ditch effort to avert nurses strike

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In a last-minute push to prevent nurses from going on a 24-hour strike Wednesday, State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) is reworking its proposal on hiring new staff at public hospitals.

OKYPY has asked nurses for some time to prepare a new proposal after a three-hour negotiations came to a dead end on Tuesday.

Cyprus nurses called a 24-hour strike for Wednesday claiming OKYPY was dragging its feet over the issue of hospital staffing shortages.

They claim that the authority is unwilling to implement an agreement reached earlier this month, that would see 300 new nurses recruited by September.

A new proposal submitted to nurses by OKYPY on Monday, stated that some 150 nurses will be hired, while another 150 positions to be filled by reshuffling existing staff.

Nurses’ unions announced their strike on Monday with OKYPY calling for an urgent meeting on Tuesday.

According to Financial Mirror sources, negotiations were halted after hitting a dead end, with OKYPY asking the unions for some time to put together a proposal that would please both sides.

Nurses appear to be concerned whether OKYPY can stick to the original agreement.

In statements to the Cyprus News Agency, PASYNO union spokesperson Theodoros Petelis said: “We have made our decision to go on strike after OKYPY showed signs of dragging its feet when it came to implementing the agreement”.

Nurses had been told by the authority on 11 June that it would hire 100 nurses in June and another 200 by September.

Petelis stated that the proposal submitted to them on Monday by OKYPY is worse than the one they had accepted on 11 June.

“While the original proposal spoke of hiring 100 nurses in June and gradual recruitment by September to complete 300 nurses, while making the Ambulance Service autonomous, the new proposal speaks of hiring 150 nurses and the Ambulance Service not being autonomous within the next 6 to 12 months.”

He said nursing staff have grown weary waiting for their contribution to public health to be recognized with authorities taking health professionals for granted.

Petelis said: “Nurses are asking for their basic rights. To work in a safe environment in which they can offer their services”.

“We are saddened by the way OKYPY has handled the whole issue in a sloppy manner. It is the lack of respect for the trade unions that appals us.”

Sources say that once OKYPY submits its revised proposal, unions will review it on Tuesday evening, announcing their decision on whether to go ahead with the strike later on.