The government signed off on Monday on financial contributions to the Larnaca and Limassol bus companies, though only Larnaca’s Zenon announced the postponement of strike measures, with public transport strikes in Limassol and Paphos expected to continue on Tuesday.
Employees of Larnaca bus company Zenon announced on Monday that they would postpone strike measures in view of the company’s reassurances that salaries for the month of November would be paid by December 6 at the latest.
Though the government also signed off on Monday on a financial contribution of €800,000 to Limassol bus company Emel, which should cover the cost of salary payments for November, there was no indication of an end to the indefinite strike announced on Monday, according to state broadcaster Cybc.
Emel CEO Giorgos Kyriakou told Cybc that while the payment would cover basic salaries, it was not enough for the company cover its other financial obligations, such as overtime.
The striking employees that gathered from the morning at the main bus station at the old Limassol hospital told Cybc that the company’s inability to pay wages was just the final straw as they were facing many other long-term labour issues which had yet to be resolved.
“Once again, about 300 workers are suffering from the failure to pay their wages and we are causing suffering for the travelling public in our district, ” Limassol district secretary of the SEK transport workers’ union, Yiannis Tsouris, told the Cyprus News Agency.
He said that stopping the strike meant not just a promise to pay the November salaries but also the next 20 months of the contract with the companies and the state.
“We want to ensure pay is not unimpeded pay for at least the next few months,” he added.
Employees of the Paphos company, Osypa, who threatened an indefinite work stoppage from Monday, are also expected to carry on with strike measures as the company has yet to reply to a letter by the ministry sent last month in view of agreeing on the financial contribution to be made.
Osypa stopped working at 6am when around 120 bus drivers, technicians and secretarial staff went on strike.
Some 5,000 pupils and 3,500 passengers were affected by the Paphos strike.
The government spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou called on all striking companies and employees to call off all strike measures to give way to talks, through which payments can be decided with companies.
He highlighted that while strike measures continue, the talks that must be initiated by the director general of the transport ministry, Stavros Michael, with the public transport companies could not begin.
Thousands of public transport users, mainly students, were without buses on Monday as wrangling continued behind the scenes between transport officials and bus companies.
The director general of the transport ministry, Michael had said on Sunday that payments to bus companies in Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Famagusta would be made on Monday to avoid more strikes.
The transport ministry announced on November 21 it would start to claim back money it overpaid in the past to all six public bus companies from December, cutting the monthly subsidies which the companies in turn use to pay their employees.
The bus companies claim that the ministry on the contrary owes money to them.