A breath before the daily power outages in various areas of Cyprus, the Minister of Labour, Kyriakos Kousios, managed to act as a fire extinguisher in the declarations of the staff of the Cyprus Electricity Authority for strike measures, after in a meeting he had with representatives of the trade unions, it was decided to start an intensive dialogue between the ministries involved, with the trade unions expecting completion of the consultations and an agreement before the new year.
Competent bodies, political parties, businessmen and consumers who would be affected by the interruptions in the electricity supply, exerted pressure to prevent the decision of the trade unions of the Authority for measures and after alerting the Government, they reached the desired result at the last moment. Of course, as the president of the Free All-Cypriot Organization of Electricity Authority Personnel (EPOPAI), Kyriakos Tafounas, clarifies while speaking to the REPORTER , it was not and is not the intention to make consumers suffer with power cuts, especially on days of the holidays.
The schedules for the meetings of the EAC trade unions, with the Minister of Energy, Natasa Pileidou and the Minister of Finance, Konstantinos Petridis, which will be held in the presence of Mr. Kousios, may not have been determined, however the goal is to find the golden ratio , which will bring the desired agreement by December to prevent any strike action that will cause inconvenience to consumers.
The trade unions of the EAC are expected to raise four basic issues before the two ministers, which, as Mr. Tafounas said, are based on the decisions of technocrats as well as the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Electricity Authority. The first issue is that of staffing, and as Mr. Tafounas explained, “after about five years of internal studies, we concluded that there are new needs for the Organization. These new needs arise from the fact that the Organization proceeded to separate its activities, based on the decision of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA). That is, today we have four activities and the common services. Activities include production, transportation, distribution and procurement. The managements of each activity have evaluated their needs according to the development program and the modern needs of consumers. These were summarized in a joint document approved by the Board of Directors and submitted from October 2021 to the Ministry of Commerce to approve the new jobs. We expected that these positions would be approved, however we were informed that only a small number of the positions were approved by the Ministries, i.e. of the 370 new positions requested by the EAC, only 146”.
In fact, as the president of EPOPAI said, “they took it a step further by purchasing services from non-existent, I say, private sector contractors who could undertake the necessary activities for the EAC. Serious issues arise for the safety and health of staff because this is a technical organization that deals with electricity and there are strict procedures and regulations that must be followed. It is necessary to have the right structures, supervision and organization to avoid accidents”.
A second issue is the involvement of the Electricity Authority in Renewable Energy Sources (RES), since as Mr. Tafounas reminded, the regulatory decision of CERA before the summer effectively excluded the Electricity Authority from operating in the RES sector. “The decision was followed by a meeting at the Presidential Palace in the presence of the President of the Republic, where instructions were given to submit a plan from the EAC to the Ministry, regarding its activity in RES, to be approved, so that the Organization can enter into it the sector. It is very important that the EAC has RES, which will bring direct benefit to the consumer. The plan was forwarded by the Ministry to CERA for approval with two basic conditions. Conditions, which essentially refer to the Greek calendar the activity of the EAC in the sector, since it presupposes the approval of parks after the withdrawal of conventional production, i.e. production units from the Dekelia Station. The second condition concerns the connection with the development program of the EAC networks. So, there are two conditions that leave the EAC out of business in the sector”.
The third issue that the unions will raise during the meetings with the ministers is the need to replace the expensive units of the Dekelia Power Station, which should have been switched off and yet, there is no plan to replace the conventional generation electricity.
As Mr. Tafounas said, “if we take into account last year's statements by the president of CERA, who said that by 2024, we will need additional contractual production of 600 megawatts and since there is no plan, an extension of the units' operation should be requested. An exemption from emissions had to be requested for a period of time, the cost of which is borne by consumers. At the same time, there should be a decision to replace the Authority's units with more modern and more economical units for the benefit of consumers. The station is necessary for the dispersion of production. We should not be left with a point of conventional production only from Vasilikos Station. The announcements from the Transmission System Operator mainly focused not on the fact that there would not be enough electricity but on the orderly operation of the networks. If the need arises in some areas to be interrupted at intervals so that there is no overloading of the networks since power will only be channeled from the Vassilikos station. Also, from the announcements of the Administrator, the conclusion is drawn that it is necessary for the Dekelia Station to remain”.
At the same time, a fourth issue that will be highlighted by the EAC trade unions concerns the control of consumers' electronic installations. This control, as he explained, is the responsibility of the Electro-Mechanical Service, which has never checked facilities and assigned the service to the Electricity Authority, which it provides free of charge to consumers. “We say that if the service is provided by a third independent organization that has no interest and financial benefit, it would be a step in the right direction,” said Mr. Tafounas.
These four issues are not unknown to the relevant ministers, since they have been discussed several times, however the intention of the trade unions is to find solutions as soon as possible and for the benefit of consumers, since any delays translate into costs. Costs that the citizens pay in the end.
“It is necessary for all of us to realize that electricity could be at a lower price, but by leaving the Authority out of RES we are led to phenomena that we hear and discuss every day, that is, profiteering, taxation. The consumer is interested in paying electricity at a reasonable price”, said Mr. Tafounas, who emphasized that “no one wants consumers to suffer. Until the end of the holidays is the opportunity to exhaust the dialogue so that we don't have to come back with measures. Any decisions are necessary for our country”.
However, in his statements, the Minister of Labor said that on Thursday he will coordinate with the Minister of Finance, Konstantinos Petridis, and the Minister of Energy, Natasa Pileidou, in order to arrange the meetings and clarified that during these contacts it will be decided who will attend each meeting.
Also, the Minister of Labor said that the period might not be offered, not only because of the holidays, but also because pre-election period, leaving it up to the hour when the consultations will be completed.
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