Differences remain between employers and trade unions as regards the introduction of a national minimum wage, Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos said on Tuesday, as he continues separate contacts with social partners.
Speaking to reporters after meeting representatives of Sek, Peo and Deok trade unions, Koushos said he planned to call a joint meeting of employers and trade unions before the end of the month, before taking the issue to President Nicos Anastasiades for a final decision.
Efforts to bridge differences will continue, but either way the minimum wage will be introduced, he said.
“Whatever the differences in approach, at the end, the political will of the president of the Republic will be converted into a decision establishing a national minimum wage,” he said.
Koushos said the target was to bring the two sides as close as possible, since reaching agreement on all aspects was “utopian”.
“The effort is to converge views as much as possible, as there cannot be full agreement. The decree will be issued, irrespective of differences,” he said.
Although Koushos did not elaborate, disagreements between employers and trade unions are understood to include how the minimum wage will be calculated, whether it will cover new entrants to the labour market and working hours.
Asked about the gap between the two sides, Sek’s general secretary Andreas Matsas said that it was not a question of differences but of procedures which could be supportive for workers that are to benefit.
And his Peo counterpart, Soteroula Charalambous spoke of a “distance” between the two sides that warranted more discussion.
This should focus on who the minimum wage should cover as well as ensuring that the mechanisms that will apply do not create difficulties for employees covered by collective agreements. Peo has in the past expressed concern that the minimum wage is not used as an excuse to undermine collective agreements which also cover other workers’ benefits.
Deok’s deputy president Stelios Christodoulou said the effort was to create a safety net for those workers and employees who need it.