Hospital staff stage work stoppage

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State hospital staff went on a two-hour strike on Tuesday to exert pressure on the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) to renew collective agreements with employees whose contracts have expired.

It comes after a last-minute pitch by Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela failed to yield results.

The minister had convened a meeting with OKYPY officials and trade unions representing staff at state hospitals.

The two-hour work stoppage went ahead as scheduled from 8.30 am to 10.30 am.

Tuesday’s two-hour work stoppage mainly affected outpatient clinics and appealed to citizens to be patient.

OKYPY called on unions to abstain from further industrial action, arguing they were not avoiding the matter, but other pressing matters came first.

In comments to CyBC radio, OKYPY’s spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said that the organisation had committed to submitting its proposal to unions.

“Employees hired by OKYPY with contracts do not have a collective agreement.

“The problem concerns auxiliary and administrative staff, hourly workers, nurses, and doctors”.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said he would continue trying to hammer out a compromise.

“At the Health Ministry, we believe we can solve problems through dialogue and not strikes.

“This has been my motto since I was appointed health minister,” he told journalists.

The strike was intended to pressure OKYPY to have certain collective agreements renewed for staff with expired contracts.

The issue concerns renewing the collective agreement for staff hired on individual contracts that expire at the end of December 2022.

It does not involve all workers at state hospitals, but trade unions have decided to stand in solidarity by planning a strike for all staff.

Unions argue that OKYPY is the only semi-governmental employer without a collective agreement for many workers.

The unions have argued that many health workers remain without rights, experiencing labour uncertainty and insecurity.

The matter should have been resolved in November, argued the independent union of nurses PASYNO.

The General Secretary of PASYNO, Panagiotis Georgiou, stated: “Our goal is to highlight the problem and to show OKYPY that health workers are united and are taking action”.

“Unfortunately, during Monday’s meeting with the Health Minister, whom we thank, it became clear again that there are large differences in the basic principles of collective agreements,” said Georgiou.

Georgiou said that during the two-hour stoppage, OKYPY’s hospitals were staffed with sufficient personnel, as in any strike action, so that no patient was in danger and only emergency cases were treated at the Emergency and Accidents departments.