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Cyprus port privatisation and labour unrest

Cyprus port privatisation and labour unrest
The day Cyprus Transport, Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades, was telling Seatrade Maritime News the privatisation of Limassol port is seen as a "reflection of the improvement in the country's economy and how it is viewed as being stable" dockers revealed they were going to strike in protest at government privatisation plans.

True to their word on 22 March the dockers shut down the island’s largest port and brought a degree of chaos to Limassol for four days, with piles of perishables left rotting.

With Cyprus poised to wrap up a three-year bailout programme next month, the successful privatisation of the Limassol port is seen as a major boost. Demetriades said: "The commercial activities of the port will enhance the already strong maritime cluster.

"An active port is part of the process of attracting more companies to Cyprus and unification of the island will further enhance the maritime sector and the Limassol cluster and attract more FDI [foreign direct investment]," said the Minister, during a short stop over in Athens, while en route to London.

Demetriades said that by 1 January 2017 the full control of Limassol will have been handed over to private operators. A consortium led by Germany’s EuroGate International, Cyprus’ Interorient Navigation company and Luxembourg-based East Med Holdings, won the concession to run Limassol port’s container terminal, under a 25-year concession agreement.

A second consortium, made up of Dubai’s DP World, its subsidiary P&O Maritime and Cyprus’ GAP Vassilopoulos will operate sea services concession for 15 years and a multipurpose terminal at the port for 25 years.

Privatisation of Limassol and Larnaca ports are part of a raft of reforms the government pledged to carry out in return for a EUR10bn ($11.2bn) bailout by international creditors. The necessary legislation is still to go before parliament.

Demetriades said Cyprus' goal is "to turn Limassol port into a regional player given its proximity to the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping traffic routes". He said the "very high interest shown in the bidding by investors underlined the potential of Limassol" home of one of the world’s largest third party ship management centres.

He referred to the port's possible role in offering hydrocarbon support services in the future to support a burgeoning offshore oil and gas industry in the region, which is considered instrumental to Cyprus’ future economic development.

Meanwhile, Limassol dockers stopped work seeking cast-iron guarantees employees jobs will be secure.

Demetriades was “surprised” by the strike. “All those employed now will keep their rights... There is no reason to strike,” said


 “In the worst case scenario, some of the workers will be moved to a different area in the public sector. This deal, is the best possible deal for the people of Cyprus.”