Hellenic Bank employees are being bullied by management not to strike

Hellenic Bank employees are being bullied by management not to strike, the bank workers union Etyk claimed on Thursday as Disy leader Averoff Neophytou appealed to both sides to resolve their differences round the table for the sake of labour peace and economic stability.

The union has called a 24-hour warning strike for Tuesday, May 31, over the bank’s plans to make 350 staff redundant without offering additional compensation. Other gripes with management include implementation of the collective union agreement.

It has drawn criticism from Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, who is acting labour minister while Zeta Emilianidou remains in critical condition after a brain aneurism. Earlier this week Karousos cancelled a scheduled meeting with Etyk because the union had pre-emotively called a strike before their rendezvous and suggested it had not shown the necessary respect to Emilianidou.

And the bank has described the decision to strike as sad and disappointing. Such a measure would further disrupt the banking system and economy during very challenging times, it added as it reiterated its intention and commitment to discussing all open and outstanding issues.

In a written statement on Thursday, Neophytou said that at a time when Cyprus was already experiencing a third international crisis, it was essential to maintain industrial peace and safeguard financial and monetary stability.

“That is why I am calling on the one hand on Etyk to suspend its strike measures and on the management of Hellenic Bank on the other to suspend its decision for dismissals and to enter in constructive dialogue under the framework of the Labour Ministry,” he said.

In a circular to members on Thursday, Etyk said that it had been contacted by colleagues complaining that they had fallen victim to intimidation from representatives of the bank’s board.

“Specifically, representatives of the bank’s management, with various ways are intimidating colleagues not to exercise their constitutionally protected right to strike,” it said.

The union said it has already filed a complaint with the labour ministry, asking it to investigate and act.

“We stress that our organisation is determine to deal with all cases of bullying that may emerge, through the labour ministry, the trade union commissioner and with personal criminal lawsuits against individuals and the management of the bank,” it said.

The right to strike was constitutionally protected and bullying carries serious criminal repercussions, it said adding that it would make sure that offenders face the consequences of their actions.

“That is why we call on all colleagues who may fall victim to intimidation (direct or indirect) by representatives of the management to immediately lodge a complaint with our organisation so such cases can be immediately and effectively dealt with,” it concluded.

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