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    Approximately 100 Greek-Cypriot potato packers in Vrysoulles went on strike yesterday against their employer’s intention to sack them and replacing them with EU community workers from Eastern Europe.

    The strike was organised by workers’ unions SEK and PEO, representing the interests of the potato packers working at the local co-operative company for agricultural products (SEDIGEP). According to the unions, the private company currently managing the co-operative is looking to fire most of the potato packers in order to hire cheaper new personnel from Eastern Europe whowill not be members of unions.

    “The replacement and hiring of personnel who will not have any rights is something that we do not accept” said Kyriacos Kyriacou of the local SEK committee.

    Kyriacou said that the majority of the co-operative’s Greek Cypriot personnel had been employed in 1974 after the Turkish invasion and now felt persecuted by the mass dismissal.

    He said that the co-operative’s intention was to keep a nominal number of Greek Cypriots – possibly around two or three – and bringing in cheap labour from Romania to fill in the numbers.

    This is the second union action this month, following a one-day abstention from work on November 2.

    In a SEDIGEP statement yesterday, the co-operative clarified that due to the financial crisis, the company needed to reconstruct its set up;assigning some of its services to third parties.
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