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Unions push back on plan for foreign nurses

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Unions push back on plan for foreign nurses

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    Major Cypriot unions representing nurses and midwives, along with the Pancyprian Federation of Labor (PEO) and the Cyprus Workers’ Confederation of Cyprus (SEK), have cast doubt on the Ministry of Health’s proposal to address the nursing shortage by recruiting from abroad.

    In a joint statement, the Cyprus Union of Nurses and Midwives (PASYNM), PEO, and SEK outlined concerns regarding patient safety and language proficiency. They emphasized the need for adherence to existing legislation and collective bargaining agreements before considering foreign nurses.

    The Ministry’s plan, announced last week by Health Minister Michalis Damianou, proposed recruiting nurses from countries like India and the Philippines, potentially requiring them to obtain Greek language certification within six months of employment.

    While not outright rejecting the idea, the unions established strict conditions. These include upholding existing registration requirements, adherence to EU directives on professional qualifications, and the inclusion of unions and nursing bodies in any discussions.

    Patient safety remains paramount for the unions, who prioritize ensuring foreign nurses meet Cypriot education standards and achieve fluency in Greek before registration.

    Furthermore, they propose a prerequisite for employing foreign nurses: a valid collective labor agreement with terms applicable to all employees, including those from abroad.

    The unions advocate for a committee including representatives from relevant ministries, employer organizations, unions, and PASYNM to evaluate applications and establish a timeframe for employing foreign nurses, with the goal of replacing them with local graduates.

    PASYNM , PEO, and SEK instead advocate for programs to attract Cypriot youth to nursing, aiming to address the staffing shortage domestically.

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