26 February 2014 10:37

 Legislation to privatise state utilities Cyta, the Electricity Authority (EAC) and the ports will go to a House vote on Thursday as government seeks a positive outcome in order to secure bailout cash.
But the crucial vote hangs in the balance.
Opposition Akel, as well as Edek and the Greens are expected to vote against the bill, while coalition Diko seems satisfied with changes made to the text, although it remains unclear how they will vote.
Finance Minister Haris Georgiades and Attorney General Costas Clerides yesterday analysed the revised bill during a House Finance Committee meeting behind closed doors yesterday.
According to the new bill, political parties will be allowed to exercise a veto at decisive moments in the denationalisation process, while they can also control the compensation that will be given in exchange for shares.
Chairman of the committee and Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said that the Finance Minister has adopted the majority of suggestions proposed by his party and stressed that the stages of the process have been clarified in order to give parliament a bigger say.
“It has been made clear that even if the business activities of any organisation fall in to private hands the new owner will not be able to fire staff and will have to accept the same employees that are offering the same services today, in accordance with the current legislation of the Republic of Cyprus,” Papadopoulos said.
He added that at the current stage no decisions will be made to privatise any of the organisations and that decisions will be made according to the draft bill and following the approval of the House for each one.
Georgiades said that the Troika is following developments regarding the draft bill and it is certain that international lenders will require an update on what has been changed and what the new prospects are, in order to ensure that there will not be any obstacles in moving the process forward.
Unions representing employees at Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) said yesterday that the revised bill is still not satisfactory.
Secretary General of the Cyprus Workers Confederation (SEK) branch Andreas Onisiforou said that the five unions representing Cyta employees had given the revised text to their legal advisers and pointed out that the new text is still far from their expectations.
“We cannot understand how changing a few words, which essentially does not alter the original content, can convince us that what we are asking for will be protected,” Onisiforou said.
He argued that the workers do not have any new demands but are looking to protect their jobs and their pensions.
Cyta employees are continuing their three-day strike which started yesterday and will end at midnight on Thursday.
As a result, all Cyta shops will remain closed throughout the strike and only essential services which are protected by law will operate. Telecommunications and other services provided by Cyta will not be affected.
According to the unions, the measures will only be lifted when their demands are met to protect workers’ employment and pension rights, institutionalise participation of employees in any denationalisation procedures and secure respect for the role of the House.
Electricity unions inflicted rolling power cuts yesterday to protest government plans to privatise the state-owned utility. But after several hours of industrial action the supply was returned to normal.
Employers have blasted the strike action saying it was hurting consumers and the economy at the worse possible time.


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