Cyprus Air union woes

NICOSIA (Reuters) – An agreement between Cyprus Airways and Swissport & GAP Vassilopoulos to bid for a ground-handling license at Cyprus’s airports could lead to strikes at the airline, a union warned yesterday. The agreement between the two companies includes a clause under which all 120 Cyprus Airways staff involved in ground handling will be employed by the joint venture under the same terms. Cyprus Airways holds a 25 percent plus one share stake. «It was a basic condition in negotiations that the partner (in the joint venture) respect and honor the terms of employment of personnel. Salaries and benefits will remain unchanged,» Cyprus Airways spokesman Kyriakos Kyriakou told Reuters. Andreas Pierides of staff union SYNYKA said his union expected his company to be a majority stake holder in the joint venture so union members will continue working for Cyprus Airways. «We do not want to be transferred to any other company. We do not know what will happen when the (ground-handling) license expires in seven years… Employees are determined to struggle for their rights even with strikes,» Pierides said. Cyprus Airways, which has suffered heavy financial losses in recent years, sees the deal as an opportunity for additional revenues that will help it implement its restructuring plan. «This deal may allow the company to enjoy less costly ground-handling services, saving 1.8 million Cyprus pounds ($4.4 million) a year and, at the same time, it offers the company prospects for additional revenues and profits,» Kyriakou said. Cyprus Airways suffered a loss of 4.3 million Cyprus pounds in 2006 and 22.6 million in 2005.