A meeting due to be held between the ministry of labour and representatives of labour unions Sek, Peo and Deok to reach an agreement over the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA), was on Wednesday morning cancelled.

The reasons given are prior commitments overseas of some participants and absences due to illness of others.

The meeting is now expected to take place sometime after the New Year break.

The CoLA rate for 2023, which has yet to be finalised, is paid out once a year, in January.

Speaking on CyBC radio, General Secretary of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev) Michalis Antoniou, said in the current conditions it would be more constructive if the meeting on CoLA were to be pushed out until later in the year, and taken up by the new government which will then be in place. Presidential elections will be held on February 5.

Antoniou also stated that the matter is important but not urgent enough to require a rush to resolve it during the festive period. In the meantime, he said, until a new agreement is reached the current regulations will be respected.

However, Antoniou said, Oev’s position on the matter was clear, that reinstatement of CoLA could not come at the cost of destroying the economy, despite the prospect of labour unrest and strike action, adding that at a time when the EU had banished this system Cyprus could not remain the outlier.

The CoLA rate paid out for 2022 was 1.27 per cent. However, unions were hoping that with the annualised inflation rate for 2022, expected to settle at around 7.7 per cent, would see CoLA for 2023 could double or even triple.

Payment of CoLA, which had been been frozen since July 2011, resumed in January 2018. Under an agreement between the finance ministry and stakeholders, CoLA is paid once a year in January provided that the second and third quarters of the prior fiscal year registered GDP growth.

CoLA rate is limited to half the annual rise in the Consumer Price Index. Trade unions want a new deal raising it to 100 per cent of the CPI. Employers want CoLA scrapped.

In the private sector meanwhile, not everyone receives CoLA – only those who work in professions governed by collective agreements.