The majority of operations of the semi-governmental organisation will be transferred to the new state company with a view to attracting a strategic investor or investors, Georgiades said.
Few would have thought that Georgiades would have dared to address union members and talk to them about the privatisation of their company.
Yet at the end of the speech the Cyta employees applauded him.
This is a big change from last year, when trade unionists attacked parliament and the Minister of Finance personally for bringing forward the legislation for privatisation.
Still, the General Secretary of Pase-Athk, Alecos Trifonidis, expressed his opposition to Cyta privatisation “as a matter of principle for the country’s best interests”.
The reality is that Georgiades’ proposal is too good even for trade unionists to refuse and Trifonidis knows that it is going to be difficult to persuade union members otherwise.
Among the sweeteners offered, Georgiades reiterated the government’s position that the rights of employees will be fully guaranteed through “practical adjustments”.
He promised Cyta employees that they will have the choice either to stay in the new private company or keep working for the existing state-owned organisation under terms yet to be determined.
Additionally, they could choose to transfer to the ‘security’ of public sector, while employees will also be able to choose voluntary early retirement.
Working for the new organisation will include an attractive incentives package.
“In all cases, employees will have opportunities and options, in all cases their pension rights will be fully guaranteed and no employee will lose their status unless they choose to do so,” Georgiades said, stressing that “under no circumstances will an employee be let go”.
Georgiades’ ‘gifts’ to the trade unions came as a response to a proposal by opposition Akel earlier this week to freeze the privatisation process until 2017.
However, on Wednesday, the Troika of international lenders’ statement on the bailout programme made a clear reference to the need to proceed with privatisation.
“Timely implementation of the privatisation plan is necessary to increase economic efficiency, attract investment, and reduce public debt,” they said.
Under the bailout deal that Cyprus signed with international lenders in March 2013, the government is due to privatise Cyta, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus and the Cyprus Ports Authority and raise €1.4 billion in the process.
Meanwhile, in the next few weeks Cyprus will officially launch a call for expressions of interest for Limassol Port, the main port of the island, according to sources within the ministry of commerce.
Privatisation of EAC has been pushed to 2018 due to technical difficulties, however.