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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The future of workers at the port of Larnaca is uncertain

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“Received letter of dismissal” say guilds – Announce their transfer says Kition

αιο μλονε&gamma αομνωλιΛρκσ p> Works are continuing normally at the port of Larnaca, the President of the Ports Authority assured a delegation of the Larnaca Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEL). </p>
<p>The workers at the port and marina of Larnaca received dismissal letters on Tuesday night from the company Kition Ocean Holdings Ltd, after its contract was terminated by the Ministry of Transport on Monday. Therefore, the meeting of the workers' representatives with the Ministers of Labor and Transport, which was scheduled for Thursday morning, was moved to this afternoon at 4 pm.</p>
<p class=“Last night the Kition workers were given dismissal letters by the company,” OMEPEGE-SEK CEO Charalambos Augusti told KYPE, noting that today the workers are normally at the port, although they have been dismissed.

“The meeting with the two Ministers has been brought forward for this afternoon, after the Council of Ministers”, he added, noting that “we are waiting for information on how they will be employed”. He said that there are already assurances from the Ministers of Labor and Transport, while he also referred to statements by the President of the Republic on the same subject.

“I believe that we all have the will not to these workers will be victimized, so a way will be found,” he said.

He noted that there had been a preliminary discussion with the Minister of Labor on Monday, where some ideas were discussed on how to resolve the issue. “I believe that some of what we discussed on Monday will be implemented,” he said, noting that he is optimistic.

Today the port works under the guidance of the Ports Authority, he added, clarifying, however, that the workers cannot be employed by the Ports Authority. He confirmed that the port is working normally, although the cranes and machinery owned by Kition are not being used. “Ships are loaded and unloaded with other machines,” he said, noting that workers said the process might be a little slower.

“I hope that in the afternoon we will have clearer answers”, said Mr. Augusti, noting that “there is only one way to find a solution”, since the workers are the ones who have been carrying out the works at the port for the last two years and “they are necessary to stay in port for the smooth transition and work of the port”.

For her part, the CEO of SEGDAMELIN PEO, Natia Kyritsis, told KYPE that a letter was given by the Kition company on Tuesday evening, with the company considering that it no longer has employees.

“Our position is that the same job that Kition had will be taken by someone else. He must give it to the workers who are inside and doing it,” he said, noting that these are qualified, professional people with regulated working conditions, who know through the Collective Labor Agreement and employers and employees their working conditions.

“The new regime should employ the workers who did the work of the port, with the same terms and their collective agreement,” he said. He clarified that the existing collective agreement expires on June 1, 2025, when it will be renewed.

When asked if the State is considered their employer by taking over the activities of the port by the Ports Authority, he replied that it is not specified, noting that Kition has an obligation to pay the employees' debts for May.

As he said, the operational part of the port employs cablemen, porters, crane drivers, technical electrical engineers, the logistics department and clerical staff.

He noted that on Monday, in a meeting, the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance, Yiannis Panagiotou, said that the Government is positive and does not want to victimize any worker.

“Today all these issues should be clarified, there should be an agreement under which regime” the workers will work, he said, stressing that it is non-negotiable that these workers have the right to continue.

Called to confirm that the port is working normally, under the Ports Authority, he said that “yes, it is working normally, with the consent of the workers”.Besides, in his statements on Tuesday evening, the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulidis, asked “that there should be no concern especially for the workers”, regarding the issue of the port, which is one of the issues that will be discussed in the Cabinet Council on Wednesday morning.

The termination of the contract, with the Kition company, with a total value of €1.2 billion, was announced on Monday by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Alexis Vafeadis , saying that this decision was actually made after consultations with the Legal Service.

Kition announced transfer to workers explaining TUPE legislation

The real situation regarding the takeover of Larnaca Port and Marina management by government

When the Government terminated the agreement with Kition Ocean Holdings (Kition) on May 27, 2024, it ordered Kition to vacate the premises immediately so that the Government “acquires all rights to the Project”. The Government chose not to have a handover period, which would have allowed the smooth transfer of the works. Instead, he showed up with a police escort, but with no real plan or direction, especially in relation to the workers.

The manner in which the takeover was carried out has caused great disturbance to the workers, who are rightly concerned about their future. We are raising this issue publicly to make sure that the Government will treat the workers fairly and according to the law. According to the Law on the Preservation and Assurance of the Rights of Employees during the Transfer of Businesses, Facilities or Departments of Businesses or Facilities Law of 104(I)/2000(TUPE Act), when a business is transferred, employees are automatically transferred to the entity taking over the business with all their rights and without interruption of their employment. This law exists to protect employees from having their employment terminated when there is a transfer of business. This law also applies to the public sector when it takes over a business from the private sector in accordance with Cypriot and European court decisions.  

The transfer of employees is not a matter of choice by the Government, but is an automatic result of taking over the business and facilities and is mandatory under the law. The alternative scenario would be redundancies without any guarantee that employees will be re-employed, which is completely prohibited by the TUPE Act.

Kition announced the transfer to employees explaining TUPE legislation and that their working conditions will remain unchanged as they move to the new employer. Also, Kition undertakes at its own expense as an independent lawyer to advise the employees about their rights.

The Government in official statements in the previous days gave assurances that the workers will not be victimized and that “the formula will be found for the continuation of their work“. The TUPE Act requires that the transfer of employment is automatic and must include all employees.We are troubled by the Government's reference to finding a “formula” since according to the TUPE Act the transfer of employees is automatic with their existing benefits, wages and all their rights.

We raise this issue. to ensure that workers' rights are fully respected. We hope that the government will not deviate from its obligations towards the workers.

Works are continuing normally, EBEL President ALK assures EBEL

Works are continuing normally at the port Larnaca, the President of the Ports Authority assured a delegation of the Larnaca Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEL).

In an announcement by the Chamber it is stated that “a delegation of EVEL led by the President Dr. Nakis Antoniou, visited the President of the Cyprus Ports Authority, Zenon Apostolos, at the Authority's offices in the port of Larnaca”.

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The aim of the visit was “to present the concerns of the members of the Chamber to Mr. Apostolos and to confirm the smooth operation of the port”.

According to the announcement “the President of ALK was unequivocal and assured us that all work at the port continues normally, which we also confirmed with our visit to the port premises”.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Municipality of Larnaca “expresses its support for the employees of the subsidiary companies of Kition Ocean Holdings and calls on the authorities to take the necessary actions to ensure their labor rights”.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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