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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Bank union threatens further action as ultimatum looms ]

Bank union threatens further action as ultimatum looms

ETYK, the blanket bank employees’ union, has given the National Bank of Greece (NBG) until today to accept government mediation, otherwise it has threatened to up the ante.

The dispute revolves around the recent dismissal of two NBG employees. According to the union, which represents some 10,000 employees on the island, the dismissals were illegal and in violation of the code of industrial relations.

ETYK has already retaliated by ordering all other commercial banks not to clear cheques issued by NBG, and last Monday held a three-hour work stoppage in solidarity with their two sacked colleagues. NBG was the only bank that stayed open for business.

It insists this is a purely union matter, and has tried to get the Labour Ministry to step in; the bank has so far snubbed calls to come to the mediation table.

The bad blood between the bank and the union dates to last summer, after NBG seconded two non-Cypriot employees from its Athens HQ to its Cyprus branch, a move that infuriated ETYK. After a one-month standoff, during which the bank was forced to shut shop, the majority of its employees formed a splinter union – a direct challenge to ETYK’s authority.

ETYK’s ultimatum to the defiant bank expires today, after which the union has threatened with “more dynamic measures”.

The union’s spokesman Mimis Theodotou declined to elaborate on what these measures might be.

“They [the measures] will concern both the National Bank of Greece as well as the other banks,” he told the Mail.

But he refused to be drawn on whether this meant they try to get bank employees affiliated to ETYK to “rebel” against their bosses at NBG.

“For us, this is a very serious issue, and we won’t back down,” he added.

About two-thirds of NBG personnel belong to the breakaway union, SYPETE; the rest are still members of ETYK.

SYPETE spokesman Efi Savvidou said they were unfazed by the threats.

She said that if any of the bank’s employees decided to join a new strike called by ETYK, “they are free to do so”.

Savvidou said that SYPETE members enjoyed even better perks than ETYK’s, having recently negotiated a collective agreement with NBG’s management.

“It’s easier for your voice to be heard when the union is confined to one bank. Obviously, when we used to be part of ETYK, we represented a drop in the ocean, just 300 employees out of a total of 10,000.”

In a press release yesterday, the separatist union poked fun at Monday’s strike.

“The offer of a free afternoon to bank employees in exchange for displaying solidarity to their colleagues in the National Bank of Greece is perhaps the easiest, most convenient and least painful thing to do,” read the statement.

It came in response to a statement issued by ETYK, which took pride in the fact that the walkout had been a “resounding success”.

It’s not clear how the row can be resolved, as the bank insists who it fires and hires is its own business alone. However, both the Central Bank and business leaders have urged the two warring parties to err on the side of reason.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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