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Unions accused of unrealistic demands amidst labour shortage

file photo: tourism amid covid 19 pandemic, in lisbon
There has been a huge increase in staff shortages

Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Christodoulos Angastiniotis has accused labour unions of making demands that are both unrealistic and unfeasible for businesses.

“Unions must realise the severity of the situation and stop making demands that are not aligned with reality,” Angastiniotis said during an event hosted by the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this week.

The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce president spoke at length on the issue of labour shortages in Cyprus and the resulting need for third-country nationals to fill any gaps in the employment market.

“The government has been convinced that the labour shortage in Cyprus is significant, this is why we have been discussing a new policy to issue work permits to third-country nationals,” he added.

Christodoulos Angastiniotis, chairman of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce (Keve)

Angastiniotis said that while everyone else agrees that the work permit issuing process needs to be done quickly and painlessly, the unions are making things difficult by demanding that all third-country nationals be offered the same pay and conditions as provided in collective agreements for union members.

“The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce will clearly not accept this demand,” Angastiniotis said.

“Just because there is a labour shortage and we want to be given work permits to bring staff from third countries, the unions seek to enforce all businesses to sign up to their collective agreements,” he added.

Angastiniotis also made a direct link between the labour shortage and the guaranteed minimum income benefit (GMI) in Cyprus, saying that this discourages people from seeking employment.

“This creates a distortion [in the labour market] which we must eliminate,” he said.

The CCCI president concluded by saying that despite the adverse effects of the pandemic, the economy will improve and that businesses will return to profitability.

Meanwhile, at the same event, Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Yiannis Karousos said that efforts to modernise and reform the Cypriot economy should continue.

“Cypriot businesses, as well as the Cypriot economy in general, must modernise further by implementing innovative ideas and technology,” Karousos said.

“We must continue to improve and modernise the services that Cyprus provides,” the minister added, explaining that the island must strive to retain its status as a quality service hub.

Speaking on emerging and promising sectors, including the transition to a green economy, Karousos said that the further utilisation of existing human resources and technology “can yield significant competitive advantages.”

The minister also praised the importance of the various commerce and industry chambers, saying that the government takes any suggestions coming from the CCCI under serious consideration before finalising policies that affect businesses.

Karousos also made reference to infrastructure projects in Limassol, including the new Limassol football stadium, as well as projects to improve the city’s road network with funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Fund.

The minister also spoke about the installation of the smart traffic light system at the Ayia Fyla roundabout, saying that this resulted in the reduction of waiting time by 50 per cent.

He added that the ministry will go ahead with a tender for the installation of smart traffic lights in 125 points in Nicosia and Limassol with the aim of reducing traffic jams.

 

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