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Sek warns of strikes if CoLA not fully reinstated

Sek trade union warned on Tuesday that if the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA) fails to be fully reinstated they will mobilise their workers.

“Reinstating the cost-of-living allowance is not negotiable,” secretary general of the union Andreas Matsas said.

“We will not hesitate to mobilise.”

Matsas made statements after a general council meeting of the union, which defined the line of the trade union in view of the session of the Labour Consultative Body (Ess) on November 7.

Minister of Labour Kyriakos Koushos and employers’ organisations are at odds, with the former calling for the abolition of CoLA and the latter campaigning for its full reinstatement.

Answering a question about what Sek will do if the restoration of CoLA is not promoted, Matsas said that Sek considers that at this moment the state’s capabilities to manage social issues and the level of the welfare state are being judged.

“We have decided that in the event that there is a different approach either from the employers’ side or from the government regarding our request for the full reinstatement of CoLA, we will not hesitate to mobilise,” he said.

At the same time, the leader of Sek said that they express their commitment to the strengthening of collective agreements through the assertion of salary increases and the improvement of similar benefits, giving particular emphasis and priority to consolidating the institution of welfare funds as the second pillar of pension benefits.

Last week, Matsas said the position of the trade unions was clear, adding that it was imperative to reinstate CoLA to “restore the purchasing power of wages.”

Matsas argued that in today’s economy, CoLA would enable workers to meet their basic needs while also supporting the real economy and encouraging foreign investment, adding that it is also important for maintaining peaceful labour relations.

The measure was scrapped in 2013, when the economy went into recession, but was re-introduced in modified form in 2018 (its calculation was changed and wages were adjusted once a year) for a transitional period of four years.

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