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Building works grind to a halt
CONSTRUCTION work stopped across the board yesterday during the first day of an islandwide strike over job losses and insecurity in the sector.
The strike is due to continue today, while the unions have not ruled out extending it indefinitely.
Unions SEK, PEO, and DEOK, have assigned patrols which have been going round construction sites looking for strike-breakers, SEK’s Yiannakis Ioannou said.
PEO issued an announcement bashing contractors who were “hurting employers, their conquests and their families”.
People are being fired and are getting replaced by “cheap labour”, PEO said.
The numbers show that Cypriots have been the least affected from all workers in the construction industry despite the unions’ claims that “cheap labour hands” were replacing Cypriots, the federation of building contractors’ associations (OSEOK) said yesterday in an announcement.
The unions have taken issue with the roughly 10,000 workers in their sector who hail from the EU, and are not part of collective agreements that guarantee better benefits for employees.
Most construction workers are Cypriots and in total the sector employs about 46,000.
And in 2008, the labour ministry stopped issuing work permits to third-country nationals who were seeking employment in the construction sector, which safeguarded jobs for Cypriots and EU workers.
Although the number of EU workers has not risen over the last few years, there are about 6,000 people who are unemployed and the unions are pushing for stricter control of who gets to work in the industry.
The sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors and many businesses within the industry were vulnerable constituting an extended strike dangerous, OSEOK said.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for ruling party AKEL Giorgos Loucaides said his party was supported the strike.