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Making Limassol port fit for purpose

Port workers in Limassol are threatening to go on strike, yet again, this time claiming that the privateer operators (DP World, Eurogate) violated or have not respected the collective labour agreements.

It all boils down to pay. Trade unions, encouraged by complaints from members of the shippers’ association this week, that Limassol port’s new operators have hiked rates, in some cases multifold, are asking for their share of the profits in the way of wage increases, while the dockside operators want to use less people for more work.

One trade unionist even attributed a comment for more hands to ExxonMobil’s management that wants to use high-quality personnel for its drilling support services.

With no cruise-shipping policy yet in place and Cyprus fast losing its spark as a competitive container terminal, it is clear that either the Dubai investors got the short end of the stick when they won the ports concession rights, or they plan to generate income from premium services, especially as Limassol cannot even compare to leading passenger and cargo ports in the region.

Whatever the plan, the Auditor-General was probably right to want to probe the privatisation deal, concerned that the state got short-changed by a handful of people in the know who wanted the deal to go through and make something on the side for themselves. Time will show if the probe will produce any results.

Once again, circumstances seem to have saved the day for the island’s main commercial port, with the recent discovery of natural gas in Cypriot, Israeli and Egyptian waters increasing the number of players in the exploration sphere and boosting all those specialists who provide auxiliary and feeder services to the petroleum giants.

Cyprus has been lucky on many occasions, yet people tend to have a short memory and do not want to learn from their past mistakes.

This also shows how shallow-minded politicians are as they lack in vision, leadership even, and all they want is to settle their accounts for today, disregarding the needs of those in the future.

The cycles of property bust and booms, the mushrooming financial and services sectors and other novel activities are on automatic pilot with no one pulling at the reigns.

If the Limassol ports deal was a flop or not productive enough, depending on which side of the coin you look at, we should do some real soul searching and decide what we really want – a port that will compete with others on cost or quality.

In which case, trade unions, operators and the government should put aside their egos and start talking to each other, before another strike cripples the economy.

What Cyprus needs is to be alert and do away with complacency, adopting and embracing change, otherwise time will fly us by and we will be left behind watching our rivals’ train speeding away.
Source: Financial Mirror

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