Cyprus should not return to past practices when governments agreed to union demands during election years, deputy spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Wednesday, a day after unions announced work stoppages after they were refused a two per cent pay rise.
“We must all together, social partners included, safeguard the sacrifices of the people,” Papadopoulos said of the austerity measures imposed in 2012 and 2013 as Cyprus sought a bailout.
The deputy spokesman said Cyprus had completed its bailout adjustment programme without introducing new taxes and in some cases it reduced taxation – scrapped immovable property tax, and cut property transfer fees by 50 per cent.
“We must all be careful so as not to sacrifice the effort … for the sake of the election,” Papadopoulos said.
Employees of the public and broader public sector, including local government, will stage a three-hour warning strike between 9am and 12pm on Thursday, October 26, over demands for pay hikes made by their trade unions which Finance Minister Harris Georgiades is refusing to discuss.
The unions claim they have a legitimate cause stemming from a framework agreement they signed with the finance ministry in January which allows for pay raises according to the rate of economic growth.
The minister said granting pay rises on the eve of the elections would signal a return to the bad practices of the past.
“Ensuring stability and the economy’s positive prospects mandates a different approach that takes into account the actual limits but also all the needs of an economy,” Georgiades said.
He added that 2017 saw the abolition of the temporary tax on wages that was imposed in 2012, the reinstatement of incremental pay rises, and pay increases in the case of promotion. In 2018, workers will also get back the cost of living allowance, also scrapped as part of the austerity drive.