Workers unions on Friday issued their 2023 agendas addressing key issues such as the need for more collective agreements, increase of pensions and implementation of legal framework for remote work and tackling poverty.
Peo union also reiterated its commitment to the bicommunal bizonal federation solution as defined by the United Nations, saying it will continue, together with Turkish Cypriot unions, to promote the reunification of the island in 2023.
It also referred to the war in Ukraine which caused an energy and food crisis and a renewed attack on worker’s rights.
Among the union’s priorities, Peo said, is to prevent any negative impact to wages and benefits, fight for the re-regulation of work, increase the workers’ share of the wealth produced and adopt measures to tackle poverty.
To this end, Peo demands the full restoration of cost-of-living allowance (CoLA) for all workers and amendments to the minimum wage decree to guarantee minimum rights for workers who are not unionised. Furthermore, Peo called for the introduction of institutional arrangements so that the basic terms of sectoral collective agreements are made compulsory for all enterprises in the sectors covered by the agreements, improvements in wages, particularly recruitment wages, and modernisation of the strategy for the employment of workers from third countries.
Legislation is needed to guarantee the labour rights of remote workers and workers on digital platforms and the negotiation of collective labour agreements, Peo said, adding that anti-discrimination policies must be implemented to eliminate discrimination in pay.
The union also demanded progressive tax reform for the benefit of workers, an integrated network of care services provided by the state and local government to children and infants, social housing programmes and financial support for low-income families.
Peo further called for a progressive reform of the social security system by abolishing the 12 per cent penalty and increasing pensions so that they provide a decent living for pensioners.
The pensions were also among the main issues for Sek, who said “Cyprus needs a balanced and socially fair pension system that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Social Insurance Fund.”
Greeting “our compatriots Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins,” Sek wished that 2023 will be the year of a solution to the Cyprus problem, “which will liberate the land and create conditions for peaceful coexistence”.
As a priority for workers next year, Sek union referred to the increase of collective agreements, citing the EU framework on the basis of the European Minimum Wage Directive, aiming to cover at least 80 per cent of workers.
The regulation of teleworking with adequate legislation is another top issue, Sek said, adding that in the new year, it will give special emphasis on the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. Moreover, the safety and health levels in all business units must be upgraded to reduce the risk of occupational accidents and occupational diseases.
Sek said a priority for the state should be the fight against price inflation and the containment of inflation.
In the context of renewing the collective agreements that expired at the end of 2022, Sek said wage increases and improvement of similar benefits will be claimed, taking into account the data of the economy, sectors and companies.
“The increase in the rate of economic growth, the reduction of unemployment, the improvement of productivity and the unfavourable distribution of earnings as a percentage of GDP to the detriment of wage-earners justify the implementation of a demanding policy to improve wages and other conditions of employment,” it said.
Labour union Deok also said its priorities for 2023 were the promotion of the legal regulation of collective agreements, the full restoration of CoLA) the restructuring of the national minimum wage, and pension system reform.
In its New Year’s message, the union said that the legalisation of collective agreements is now the only way forward for Cyprus, which in the context of the European directive on adequate minimum wages should define a road map so that up to 80 per cent of workers are covered by a collective agreement.
Deok said it will work hard to make this important goal a reality and will continue to advocate for legislation to be revised in a way that guarantees hourly performance and enshrines basic labour rights at the minimum wage such as holidays, overtime compensation and CoLA.
Deok’s main objective, the statement continued, is CoLA’s expansion, so as to cover low-wage workers with a minimum wage as well as workers in sectors where collective agreements apply.
The union said that another important issue it will raise in the social dialogue in 2023 will be pension system reforms.