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Civil servants want shift benefits restored

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Unions representing shift workers in the public sector say their members are being left out from decisions to restore civil servants’ wages and benefits to levels prior to 2013, while their shift benefits are not on the authorities’ agenda.

Six unions are demanding that authorities reinstate benefits for working overtime and night shifts to the levels prior to the 2013 financial crisis, which saw wages “slashed”.

Unions representing nurses (PASYNO), state doctors (PASYKI), the independent union of telecommunications workers and CyTA workers’ union PASE, and air traffic controllers, demanded that the government reinstates benefits to pre-2013 levels.

“Ten years ago, when the financial crisis swept through Cyprus and the world, civil servants in the wider public sector paid a hefty price, losing a big portion of their earnings,” they said in a joint statement.

They argued that shift workers saw bigger losses as they lost a big part of their compensation for working overtime in night shifts, weekends and public holidays.

“Compensation for night work, that is proven to be harmful to health, was significantly reduced. So was the compensation for working on public holidays,” noted the unions.

They argued that with salaries of civil servants being restored to pre-2013 as of January 2023, all salary cuts instituted in the public sector back in 2012 will be have been rescinded.

In late 2012, as part of a preliminary deal between Cyprus and the ‘troika’ of international lenders, parliament passed a series of laws reducing salaries and benefits for people employed in the broader public sector.

Redundancies

However, pay cuts were far greater in the private sector, where the crisis was also used as an excuse for redundancies. There were no redundancies in the wider state sector.

The salary reductions in the public sector, including state-owned utilities (Cyta, EAC, water boards) began being rolled back in July 2018 and were implemented in stages every January 1 of each year.

“With the improvement of the economy, gradually all benefits and salaries of civil servants have been restored. However, shift workers who sacrifice a big part of their personal, social and family life, working Sundays, Christmas and Easter are being left out. These employees are the ones who take care of patients, ensure power supply, telecommunications and air traffic, supporting the state’s smooth operation,” argued the unions.

They added that if the rising cost of living is taken into account, then the financial burden on shift workers is doubled compared to the rest of the civil servants.

Government payroll in 2023 will rise to €3.19 bln from €3.04 bln this year – an increase of 4.7%. This covers salaries, pension payouts and bonuses.