Banks in Cyprus are all set to reduce staff-related costs since their income base is still under pressure due to red loans and low interest rates.
This is the message commercial bank administrations are leaking from time to time.
Insiders also told Phileleftheros that the management side is more than ready to give a battle with ETYK (Cyprus Bank Employees Union) at the negotiating table since they cannot sustain additional labour costs or maintain existing ones.
However, the recent unilateral pay rise decision by Hellenic Bank’s administration for its 2,500 employees while pushing aside the expired collective agreement with ETYK and dismissing negotiations on a new one, has turned things upside down.
It now remains to be seen whether bank employees will heed to the union’s call for a 24-hour strike on Friday, even though the scenes negotiations are the ones to probably play the biggest role in this situation.
Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou yesterday refused to comment on Hellenic Bank’s developments, and just said now is not the time for public statements that would help neither side. Possible mediation by the Labour Ministry is not out of the question so as to prevent unstable conditions that could affect negatively the island’s financial sector. The way the situation with Hellenic Bank develops will certainly pave the way for the other lenders to either renew or not collective agreements.
Bank of Cyprus employees’ collective agreement expired in 2017. And former CEO John Hurican raised the issue of abolishing horizontal and automatic pay increases as well as changing the system of promotion as back as in 2016. This move was welcomed by the management of Hellenic Bank at the time.
However, BoC staff did not welcome at all the management’s proposal at the time and relations between the union and the administration recorded ups and downs ever since. It remains to be seen what the day after Friday will bring.
By Theano Theiopoulou