Cyprus Mail

Immigrant support group outraged over ‘slave wage’ ad

A 2014 collective agreement allows agricultural workers to earn just 455 euros a month

By Andria Kades

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou has ordered a probe into a job advertising full time work for a monthly salary of just €480 gross, NGO and immigrant support group KISA said on Monday.

A picture of the ad, circulating on social media in Greek, said it was looking to hire someone “for a number of tasks such as cleaning weeds, watering, planting, pruning, general cleaning, with full time hours, including national holidays and Sundays” in the Ayios Trimithias area in Nicosia.

The number is that of KS Flower Shop.

KISA branded it as a “slavery vacancy” but said it fell under a 2014 collective agreement pushed by the labour ministry itself.

“It concerns migrants working in the farming sector…..signed by the government, agricultural organisations and unions. It is essentially designed to serve Cypriot employers, while in the meantime sacrificing the rights of employees in the farming sector, the vast majority of whom are migrants.”

A spokesman for the flower shop said people were hurling abuse at them without listening to their side of the story.

He added the labour ministry had contacted them, and the company had explained their reasons, but said he did not wish to make them public.

“This is a huge misunderstanding, if we were criminals we wouldn’t have been treated this way,” he said.

“Young people call using pre-paid cards so they can’t be traced, call us and without giving us a chance to talk hurl abuse at us. It is a terrible situation.”

According to KISA, the collective agreement makes it legal for employees in the agricultural sector to earn €455 a month of which a portion goes towards social insurance payments “with no essential benefit…because they have no access to the public health system”.

“The agreement illegally requires employees are a member in one of the unions,” where in most cases, employees have no contact with the actual unions, KISA said.

Additionally, the NGO added migrants have to work under terrible conditions “far more than 80 hours in 15 days, including Sundays and public holidays” and due to their legal status have limited potential to change employer.

It also slammed the labour ministry for not conducting enough inspections and called on them to reconsider negotiating the specific collective agreement again to offer equal rights to all employees irrelevant of their ethnic origin and residence status.

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