Nurses call off strike after pledge for more staff

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Cyprus nurses called off a 24-hour strike scheduled for Wednesday after they reached an initial agreement with the state health services organisation (OKYPY) for the hiring of 305 additional nursing staff.

The strike was averted following a last-minute push to prevent nurses from going on strike with OKYPY reworking its proposal on hiring new staff at public hospitals.

Following a last-minute meeting with the nurses’ unions PASYNO and the nurses’ branch of the civil servants union PASYDY, an agreement was struck to hire 160 nurses now, and another 145 between September 2020 and February 2021.

Nurses decided to take industrial action on Monday after OKYPY was perceived to be dragging its feet over the issue of personnel shortages at hospitals.

They claimed the authority was 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 were to be filled by reshuffling existing staff.

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 new proposal that would please both sides, which was finally accepted.

Earlier, in a statement issued while the two sides were at the negotiation table, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said: “Everyone’s common goal is to serve patients and these practices punish patients who opted to be served by public hospitals”.

Ioannou’s intervention was perceived as putting pressure on the sides to come to an agreement while urging nurses that there are other ways to protest before resorting to extreme measures.