Trade unions on Tuesday announced they will be taking measures on January 26 after another meeting with employers’ organisations and Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos over CoLA ended in an impasse.
Unions already announced a three-hour general strike on January 26, from 12 noon to 3pm, as a first step.
Tuesday’s meeting was being held in an ongoing attempt to stave off labour unrest and bridge the gap between the two sides, so that a new agreement can be signed following the expiration of the previous 2018-2020 agreement.
“Last Thursday, I continued contacts and consultations in an attempt to bridge the different, diametrically opposed, I would say, positions of the employers’ organisations and the trade unions,” the minister said in a written statement.
The latest joint meeting with employers and trade unions took place a week earlier at which time it was stated that by Tuesday the minister would make his decisions.
The minister said the trade unions had led him to believe they were ready to accept a gradual reinstatement of CoLA while, on the other hand, the employers accepted the agreement of July 2017 and undertook to implement it, that is, payment of 50 per cent CoLA.
In his statement, he explained that last week these positions were not yet sufficiently congruent for him to be able to submit a proposal, which is why he had asked for more time.
“During the meetings I had in the last few days, it became clear that the sides are not yet ready to differentiate their last recorded positions,” he said.
“I believe that the distance that exists between the two sides is so great, that it gives me absolutely no possibility to submit, at the present time, a mediation proposal that has the slightest hope of being accepted”.
Unions – Peo, Sek federations and public sector unions – announced that they will proceed with a strike on January 26 with the aim of protecting the institution of CoLA.
At the same time, employers’ organisations appealed to the unions to avoid resorting to measures that will worsen the climate, urging them to continue consultations immediately after the assumption of the new government.
Koushos said he will continue promoting efforts to reach a consensual agreement, “despite the limited possibilities I have due to both the positions of the social partners and the limited time remaining until the assumption of the new government.”
“I am sure that the new labour minister will continue the efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution,” he said, stressing the need to safeguard the economy.
Finally, he appealed to “the seriousness and sense of responsibility” of those involved, calling on them “to rise to the occasion and safeguard industrial peace.
“The Ministry of Labour as the competent authority par excellence, and as the guardian of industrial peace, will always be a leader and ready to cooperate with the social partners in this goal,” he finally said.