Cyprus Mail

Businesses want minimum wage reduced

THE Cyprus Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) and the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) yesterday told the troika of lenders minimum wage in Cyprus should be reduced.
KEVE chairman Phidias Pilides told reporters after an afternoon meeting with troika representatives at the Planning Bureau the minimum wage hampered the employment of young high school graduates or unskilled young people who were looking for employment in retail.

Although there should be a minimum wage to protect those who are not part of collective agreements, reducing minimum wage would help employ more people, Pilides said.

For example, rather than have to employ one person on €924 a month, a shop might choose to employ two people on a “slightly higher cost” if their wage collectively came to €1,400, Pilides said. He added they have been asking the government to reduce minimum wage by 20 per cent for months to help businesses keep their current employees and help them hire more people.

Minimum wage applies for certain occupations such as shop assistants, clerks, personal care workers and child minders and is set at €870 a month for new hires and rises to €924 a month on the completion of a six month period. The law says shop assistants must not be made to work longer than 38 hours a week on an 8-hour working day. Unions have said that workers earning less than minimum wage or made to work unpaid overtime are reluctant to report this to authorities because they fear losing their jobs. When the previous administration raised the minimum wage to the current levels in April 2012, KEVE and OEV had said the move was ill advised because of the financial crisis.

Pilides told journalists that the troika “believed in the free market” but conceded they did not express a view on the matter during their meeting.

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