By Stefanos Evripidou
THE GOVERNMENT has decided to reduce the fixed salary of domestic workers by five per cent, a move described by migrant support group KISA as a “tragic” decision against the lowest paid workers in the Cypriot economy.
According to an announcement released yesterday by the Interior Ministry’s Migration Department, as from July 1, 2013, the gross salary of domestic workers is decreased by 5.0 per cent, going from €484 to €460.
However, domestic workers get a significantly lower figure to take home, following deductions for social insurance payments and food and board for domestic workers who reside with their employer.
In real terms, the net salary of domestic workers has gone down from €326 to €314, after a decision taken by the ministerial committee for the employment of third country nationals on June 11 this year.
The migration department announcement did not specify the reasons behind the decision to reduce the already low salaries of domestic workers.
The ministerial committee also decided to terminate the annual automatic wage indexation for domestic workers, known as the cost of living allowance which has been all but frozen for the public and private sector since the onset of the economic crisis in Cyprus.
KISA representative Doros Polycarpou yesterday described the decision as “tragic”, noting that domestic workers receive the lowest salaries in the Cyprus Republic.
“If the government feels that this category of workers can take a further reduction in salaries, this is very sad,” he said.
Polycarpou noted that the recent decision effectively cancels out the 5.0 per cent increase in domestic workers’ salaries announced in 2011 by then labour minister Sotiroulla Charalambous.
“This means that the salaries have basically stayed the same since 1991 when the figure was first calculated. The only increases since then, apart from the 2011 decision, were related to the cost of the employer to provide food and board, not on net salaries,” he added.
The KISA head questioned the motive behind the move, asking: “Do we think that the Cypriot employer’s financial situation will improve with €12 a month?”
He charged the government with trying to make a symbolic gesture to the populace at the expense of the foreign workers, for whom the reduced amount is a considerable sum.
“It’s unbelievable, and the irony is the state is the biggest employer of domestic workers anyway, since the majority of the elderly and disabled receive benefits from the state to hire domestic workers to look after them,” he said.