By Sinead Kelly
NEARLY three quarters of employees in Cyprus say that working conditions are worse now than they were five years ago mainly because of the economic crisis, according to a Eurobarometer survey released in Brussels yesterday.
This coincides with the general trend in pay cuts, shorter work days and rising unemployment as local businesses restructure and try to cope with the fallout of the crisis, despite the University of Cyprus businesses sentiment index seeing some stabilisation in recent months.
The Eurobarometer report revealed that pessimism was greater in eurozone periphery nations that have sought a bailout, with work satisfaction higher in northern and Nordic states. Over half of European workers, or 53%, consider working conditions generally in their country to be good at present, but 57% think that the quality of work has deteriorated in the last five years.
Although most or 77% of workers in the EU are satisfied with their own working conditions, there is a wide disparity across member states, ranging from 94% in Denmark to 38% in Greece. In general, 80% of workers are highly satisfaction with their working hours and 85% with health and safety at work.
The Eurobarometer survey, carried out from April 3 to 5 in the 28 member states, showed that 54% of Cypriots were satisfied with the working conditions in Cyprus and 40% were not, while 68% said they were satisfied with their own working conditions and 38% said they were not.
Over the past five years, 9% of Cypriots said quality of work has improved, 15% remained unchanged, and 75% said this has deteriorated. The respective percentages in the EU were 12%, 27% and 57%.
Regarding work hours, 79% of Cypriots said they were satisfactory and 21% said they were not. Asked whether they were informed on their future by their companies, 63% of Cypriots said they were and 36% said they were not.
Invited to rate the greatest risk in the workplace, 51% of Cypriots said it was stress, 26% repetitive movements, and 20% accidents, close to the EU average.
The results of the Eurobarometer will feed in to discussions on current and future prospects for EU action in the field of working conditions in Brussels on 28 April. The conference will provide an opportunity to discuss how to further develop a consistent and forward-looking approach to working conditions in the EU, to ensure high levels of quality, safety and equity at work.
Trade unions, employers’ organisations and policy-makers, both at European and national level, are invited to reflect and take common initiatives to support working conditions and job quality, which is essential in order to meet the Europe 2020 objectives. Good working conditions, including a healthy and safe environment, are often associated with high worker motivation, creativity and commitment, leading ultimately, to high levels of productivity.
“We have a remarkable heritage of law and policies to ensure good working conditions that allow for high levels of satisfaction among European workers,” said EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor.
“But there is a fear also, and a real risk, that working conditions will suffer in the wake of the economic crisis,” he added.