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Cyta staff to strike over pay

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Trade unions at the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) are calling for a 24-hour all-out strike on January 16, a decade after their last labour action, over the semi-state authority’s innovation and restructuring plans and salaries for newcomers.

They also want a once-off pay rise of nearly 6%, regardless of productivity, promotions and inflation-linked automatic wage increases.

Members of the trade unions EPOET (OHO-SEK), ASET-Cyta, PASE-ATIK, SIDIKEK-PEO-Cyta, SEP-ATIK carried out a two-hour work stoppage from 8 to 10am on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the trade unions stated that they had, “preserved labour peace for so many years, but both parties need to contribute. Unfortunately, the [management] side has not taken steps to do so, with actions, omissions, and maximalist demands.”

“We expect from the administration and management of the organisation to reflect on their responsibilities regarding the shake-up of labour peace and finally take the positions of the trade union movement in the significant chapter of institutional innovation and personnel evolution seriously.

“From our side, as a continuation of the warning work stoppage, we are compelled to escalate our reactive measures,” the statement concluded.

Following Thursday’s walkout, the unions announced they will escalate their measures, decreeing the need to safeguard the public character of CyTA, an issue that has been considered closed for some time.

The previous government, under then-President Nicos Anastasiades had made it clear that the organisation’s status would not change.

Last strike in 2014

Both Cyta and Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) staff went on strike in February 2014, opposing a privatisation bill being debated in parliament at the time, that aimed to sell state-owned assets with the aim of raising €1.4 bln by the end of 2018, as part of the €10 bln bailout and reform programme agreed with the Troika of the IMF, EU and ECB.

Cyta was one of the biggest dividend earners of the state in past decades, but also an inefficient company burdened with staff hired by pressure from all political parties and ruling governments.
The telco has steadily lost market share to the likes of Epic (then-South Africa-owned MTN), Cablenet and PrimeTel.

In the past five years, Cyta revenues increased from €343 mln in 2018 to €400 mln in 2022, while net profits rose from €60.6 mln to €76.1 mln, respectively.

Currently, unions perceive a recent proposal by the authority on institutional reform and restructuring of personnel, as a threat to the organisation’s quasi-state status.

Cyta’s leadership has yet to comment on their proposal and the unions’ reactions.

Delving into the details, the unions are objecting to the liberalisation of various departments and services, arguing against an increase in the proportion of private-law employees, and oppose scaled-down recruitment salaries for public-law employees.

The trade unions’ disagreements also encompass the proposed handling and salary upgrades for permanent employees.

Unions also want a one-time pay increase of 5.75% a month, in addition to the cost of living allowance (CoLA).