Banking staff union calls for general strike

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Bank employees union ETYK called its members to approve a general strike in protest against Hellenic Bank’s intention to lay off up to 350 staff.

Calling its members to vote in two weeks, ETYK has urged for a general strike claiming that Hellenic wants to abolish long term contracts and lay off 50% of its staff without an early retirement package.

In a letter sent out on Friday, ETYK criticised Hellenic CEO Oliver Gatzke, accusing him of ignoring the social impact of firing 350 bank employees without compensation.

“Following the threats, which he has expressed from the first day that he set foot in the bank, Mr Gatzke has sent in writing his intention to dismiss more than 50% of the staff without a Voluntary Retirement Plan,” said an ETYK statement.

“Gatzke’s indifference to the impact of his actions on society and the bank itself does not surprise us, as his stay in Cyprus is likely to be temporary.

“But all of us will be here the next day, and we must be ready to live with the wreckage created by predator politicians”.

“If the Bank wishes to reduce the number of its staff, this can only be done through a satisfactory Voluntary Withdrawal Plan, similar to those offered by other banks in our sector.”

ETYK also accuses the bank of not keeping its side of the collective agreement signed in 2021.

“Hellenic has not complied.

“We expect the Ministry of Labour as the custodian of the labour institutions will immediately carry out its obligations without allowing other circles to interfere in its work”.

ETYK noted that the ministry has also instructed Hellenic to reinstate the salaries of former Co-op Bank employees who joined it as part of the takeover deal on 1 January 2019.

Former Co-op employees saw their salaries reduced in 2014 when they were still at the Co-op, following the 2013 financial crisis.

ETYK noted that the Labour Ministry had warned Hellenic on 17 March to restore salaries within seven days or legal measures would be taken against them.

The union also said that the bank refuses to carry out its obligation to make newcomers part of the permanent staff after 18 months.