Cyprus Workers From Power to Ports Strike Over Sale Plans

Workers at the state-controlled Cyprus Telecommunication Authority and Cyprus Ports Authority walked off the job for 24 hours today to protest government plans to privatize the two companies.

Employees of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus decided to strike for 12 hours, to avoid power cuts, before a parliamentary vote later this month on the framework for the asset-sale plan, which will also include the utility.

Privatization will damage workers’ and consumers’ rights and it’s up to lawmakers to prevent a sell-off, Christos Kyriakides, head of the union of shift workers at EAC, said in an interview. “Electricity is a natural monopoly in Cyprus and it’s better as a state rather than as a private one,” he said.

The government is ready to examine changes to the proposed legislation to satisfy lawmakers, Finance Minister Haris Georgiades said on RIK TV. Still, privatization will go ahead because it’s part of the terms of Cyprus’s international loan program and “we can’t afford to risk this,” he said, adding that employment rights are protected by law.

Cyprus must approve legislation on the privatization program by the end of February to qualify for the next tranche of the loan, Georgiades said Feb. 11.

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