Labour Ministry urges DP World to rescind sackings

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The Labour Ministry has called on DP World, operator of the Limassol port, to rescind its decision to sack four workers, prompting trade unions to stage a second strike in two weeks.

On Wednesday, port workers went on strike protesting the laying off of their colleagues, made redundant by DP World Limassol.

This caused general cargo and passenger terminals problems, including a commercial ship carrying a load of six horses returning from races overseas.

After deliberations, the port workers allowed the animals to be offloaded, while the container terminal operated by Eurogate seems to be unaffected.

A senior ministry official urged DP World Limassol to reconsider the layoffs as the redundancies were in an ongoing labour dispute and thus would violate the labour relations code.

The Mediation Service Deputy Director, Antis Apostolou, called all parties to a meeting at his office after the holiday break on August 23, while the workers said they would suspend their strike if their colleagues were reinstated.

In last week’s dispute concerning the delay in signing the collective agreement, the trade unions had accused the ministry of siding with the employers.

This week, they seem to be happy with the ministry siding with them.

Unsigned collective agreements

The three-day impromptu strike prompted after trade unions objected to changes by DP World in the collective labour agreements ended on August 4 after the outstanding collective agreements were signed, and workers returned to their posts.

The collective agreements had reportedly remained unsigned from last November, when an initial agreement had been reached.

Initially, the Ministry of Labour’s mediation service condemned the strike, saying it was unwarranted and violated labour laws that define the right to strike.

The trade union federations SEK and PEO said the employer, DP World Limassol, tried to introduce some clauses in the collective agreements up for renewal and indirectly blamed the Ministry of Labour for not responding to their warnings since June.

After the breakthrough was achieved in the labour deadlock, employers’ federation Director-General Michalis Antoniou said: “The DP World workers’ strike at Limassol port has ended, and an agreement was reached. As a result, labour peace has been reached.”

However, the OEB executive added, “the regulation of the right to strike in essential services is necessary more than ever”.

Port workers and those at airports and utilities are considered ‘essential public services’ and should be exempt from wildcat strikes that could create economic damage.

Earlier this week, Antoniou made a fresh appeal to the government.

“The state is not being called to regulate strikes. However, it needs to implement the regulations on strikes that OEB freely signed since 1999, together with the trade unions and the Ministry of Labour adopted in 2004.”