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15,000 construction workers to strike on Wednesday

February 12, 2019 at 4:09pm

Around 15,000 construction workers will strike on Wednesday to press their demand that building contractors renew their collective agreement and restore cuts in their salaries and benefits.

The strikers will gather at 12 pm at the PEO buildings in Nicosia and Paphos and at the SEK buildings in Limassol, Larnaca and Famagusta.

There they will authorise their trade unions to escalate the strike measures if their demands are not met.

“The workers are determined to protect their year-long effort that was done to prepare the bill which provides for the mandatory application of the five points of the collective agreement,” General Secretary of PEO Michalis Papanikolaou told Phileleftheros.

The bill was designed to ensure that agreements over the workers’ working hours, social security funds, bank holidays, benefits and salaries are applied by the contractors.

The workers demand the mandatory application of the collective agreement in order to combat unfair competition and illegal employment, Papanikolaou said.

The bill was the result of a ten-year effort and the employers “suddenly decided to crush it”, Papanikolaou added.

How do the contractors respond?

President of the Organisation of Building Contractors Costas Roushias described the strike as meaningless and urged the unions to resume dialogue.

He said that despite the fact that they rejected the collective agreement bill, the contractors are ready to return to the negotiating table.

Roushias added that for the contractors, the collective agreement and the bill are two separate things.

“We believe that the dialogue must continue for the sake of the economy. The employees are our best allies and we are called to find a solution to sign the renewal of the collective agreement,” Roushias said.

According to philenews, the strike will affect construction sites all over the island. The work of around 10,000 other employees such as as electricians and civil engineers will also be affected.