After lengthy negotiations, hoteliers and unions said Wednesday they agreed on the terms for the renewal of the industry’s collective agreement, which includes a legally mandated minimum salary, a key worker demand.
The negotiations were overseen by Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou who is expected to submit the official proposal in the next few days.
The deal comes after some 24 hours of talks over two days held in a Nicosia hotel.
PEO union leader Pambis Kyritsis said they have an unofficial proposal, which both sides, despite reservations and disagreements, have pledged to put to their members for approval.
Kyritsis said the result could have been better for the workers in the sector, which has not been affected by the crisis but “we have achieved many important things that radically change the labour state of affairs in the industry.”
“The most important achievement is that we agreed with the hoteliers and the government to legally establish minimum salaries for the workers in the hotel industry,” he said.
His SEK counterpart Andreas Matsas said it was important that unions achieved one of their key goals.
Through the negotiation, he added, unions managed to gain a 38-hour five-day work week, basic salaries plus cost of living allowance, and other benefits like a provident fund.
The deal, Matsas said, ensured industrial peace and emphasised the role of social dialogue.
The SEK boss said an effort will be made for the new collective agreement to have a longer duration, possibly four years instead of two or three.
The head of the employers’ organisation OEV, Michalis Antoniou, said the parties had been asked to solve a complex equation.
“An historic compromise has been achieved with gains and losses for each side, which however are net gain for the hotel industry as a financial activity,” Antoniou said.
Antoniou paid tribute to the minister for her “amazing” persistence in seeking solutions and resolving the problems that emerged during the negotiations.
Emilianidou, in comments after a cabinet meeting later, said: ‘It is important that, indeed, after a difficult negotiation we have an agreement in principle-because it must go through the general assemblies of both the employers ‘ and the workers. It is a balanced proposal that secures workers ‘ rights and maintains the competitiveness of the tourism industry.”
She added: “I believe that the agreement in principle is beneficial to the parties. I would like to thank all those involved, because it was really in good faith that we have reached this result.”
Asked about the issue of the national minimum wage for certain categories of workers, the minister said that two meetings had already been held with the international labour organisation, while the EU Commission would assist in the necessary studies beforehand. Studies would be completed by the end of the year, the minister said.
“Once there is full employment conditions-that is, under 5 per cent unemployment – today it stands at 6.5 per cent from 17 per cent in 2013 – we believe that soon we will be able to have a national minimum wage,” said Emilianidou.