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Former labour minister elected first woman head of Peo union

swtiroula charalampous
Sotiroula Charalambous

Sotiroula Charalambous, a former labour minister in the Christofias administration, was on Friday elected new general secretary of trade union confederation Peo, succeeding Pambos Kyritsis who stepped down after 23 years at the helm.

Charalambous, who has also served as Akel MP, becomes the first woman to lead a trade union confederation in Cyprus.

Her election came as the 28th Peo conference elected its new 125-strong general council.

Born in Ayios Memnonas, Famagusta in 1963, Charalambous studied politics and social sciences in Sofia and started working as a trade union official at Peo in 1986. She held a number of posts, heading the women’s chapter for Larnaca-Famagusta, becoming secretary of the women’s central office, executive secretary of Peo, central organisational secretary and deputy general secretary.

She was labour minister from 2008 to 2013 and an Akel MP from 2001  to her appointment to cabinet.

Addressing the conference, Charalambous said she was fully aware of the task ahead, noting particularly the critical juncture for working people, labour relations and trade unionism.

The pandemic in the past two years has led to decisions which have affected work and the life of the working people, she said noting that insecurity and concern for the future have been used to expand cheap labour.

The conference has given a clear mandate to the new general council to continue efforts to introduce arrangements to ensure minimum wages and basic benefits for all, she added.

She also pledged to work to put an end to efforts to undermine collective agreements and promote personal contracts. Other priorities include better salaries and working conditions, full restoration of Cola (the automatic indexation of wages), scrapping the 12 per cent penalty for early pensions, action to combat inequality and tax reform that will shift the burden from the many to the rich.

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