Disy president Averof Neophytou and unions representing workers at the Port Authority agreed to disagree on the issue of privatisation of the semi-government organisation.
Speaking after a meeting at Disy HQ in Nicosia, Neophytou explained that the government will continue to own the assets of the Port Authority but will try to find a strategic investor to manage the ports, adding that the majority of port services are already managed by the private sector.
He pointed out that shipping agents, porters and dockers have been in charge of managing the ports for decades and that all three belong to the private sector.
The Port Authority currently employs 280 people and the government has decided --based on the privatisation roadmap -- it will remain a public organisation responsible for the control and supervision of the management of the ports.
Neophytou said that Cyprus has also chosen strategic investors to manage both the island’s airports, where quality services are offered and thousands of people are employed.
The decision to find a strategic investor for Larnaca Port was made by the Clerides government despite reaction by the Papadopoulos and Christofias administrations that succeeded it.
“Therefore, already one of the two ports has adopted the policy of a strategic investor, regardless of the problems that exist today to fund the project,” Neophytou said.
With regards to the workers at the Port Authority, Neophytou stressed that between 80% and 90% of the staff will retire normally, while 20% will constitute the workforce a new investor will need.
“I believe that since the Port Authority will maintain its supervisory role of the management of the ports of Cyprus, the staff that will be around at the time when a strategic investor is found may not be enough to carry out all the work related to the control and supervision.
“Therefore, I estimate that the most likely scenario will be that there is no employment issue to handle, but even if there is, there is good will to find a solution.”
Left-wing Peo official Glafcos Constantinou expressed the union’s opposition against the government’s approach to change the regime at the Port Authority.
He also said that the involvement of a strategic investor at Larnaca Port was a failed experiment.
Constantinou argued that the Port Authority is understaffed and has requested the un-freezing of 45 positions so that it can continue to operate properly, while he believes that with some adjustments to the authority’s services the organisation can become even more profitable.