By Stelios Orphanides
Bank workers union Etyk said Tuesday its board of directors “unanimously” decided to ask members at Hellenic Bank to hold a 24-hour strike on Friday, June 30.
The decision came after Hellenic Bank workers voted last week to authorise the union to take action against the bank’s decision to transfer around 150 employees to APS Debt Servicing Ltd, to which it will outsource management of its non-performing loan portfolio, the union said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
The union, known for its militant rhetoric, said it would not accept “arbitrary decisions aiming at reducing the rights of our colleagues to shreds” and their victimisation.
“We will not accept the circumvention of agreements and the rights of our members,” it said.
Hellenic Bank, which still struggles with a €2.5bn bad loan burden making up 57 per cent of its total portfolio, had announced its agreement with the Prague-based APS Holdings to set up APS Debt Servicing in January.
It has repeatedly said that affected workers will work under the same employment terms in the new company, due to launch its operations on July 1. It also promised to hire back any worker who would seek to return to the bank after a two-year period at APS Debt Servicing.
The Cyprus Business Mail understands that the bank’s management is prepared to engage in further talks with the union and it is expected to review the situation later today.
A Hellenic Bank source said the new unit, owned by APS Holdings and Hellenic to 51 per cent and 49 per cent respectively, will commence its operations regardless of any strike action and workers affected by the new arrangement with APS will receive their pay from the new company in the future, citing the provisions of European legislation.
On Thursday, Hellenic Bank said “no job will change, no salary, and no benefit will change” and dismissed Etyk’s position that workers’ rights would be affected.
Hellenic posted a €10.5m net loss in the first quarter, and generated a €63.5m loss last year.