By Stelios Orphanides
Bank workers’ union Etyk said that it asked its members working for Bank of Cyprus to authorise it to take labour action against the largest Cypriot lender on the grounds that it has infringed existing agreements and the law protecting salaries.
“The administration of Bank of Cyprus, acting once more unilaterally and disrespecting existing agreements, labour institutions and its very staff, arbitrarily decided not to grant last January the compensation for inflation and the annual incremental pay rise to eligible colleagues,” the union said in a statement on its website on Friday. “We have already asked the bank’s administration to reconsider its unacceptable decision and to comply with its contractual and legal obligations.”
The union, known for its militant rhetoric, said that it will see itself otherwise compelled into talking “all necessary measures to protect the rights of the colleagues”.
Bank of Cyprus, the lender recapitalised five years ago with depositors’ funds, posted in the first nine months of last year a €553 million after-tax loss, mainly on increased provisions and is struggling with a 47.6 per cent non-performing loans ratio, or €9.2 billion.
On Jan. 30, five days before the presidential election runoff, the bank’s chief executive officer John Hourican said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, that the bank had decided to compensate its workers who lost money when their provident funds were bailed in March 2013, even if Etyk did not accept a proposed overhaul of the bank’s remuneration system at a cost of €23m.
Etyk said that its members employed at Bank of Cyprus will hold general assemblies on March 5.
“The decisions, actions and behaviour of the administration of the bank leave us no other choice, and it will carry the responsibility for the consequences,” the union added.