Deok union blasted the government’s stance on foreign workers on Thursday accusing Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos of sidelining workers’ rights and paving the way for companies to hire third-country nationals “uncontrollably” without any union protection.

“He chose to negotiate behind the scenes with employers only, violating labour laws and the basic principles surrounding labour relations in this country,” the union said in a statement.

Deok was reacting to Koushos’ assertion a day earlier that he would not leave his post until the revamp of strategic plan for hiring third country nationals is promoted to the cabinet.

The discussion has been going on for years, and concernsthe labour ministry’s proposals to include foreign nationals – specifically from third countries – in the workforce.

The sticking point for employers is the clause that specifies companies can have 50 per cent of the workforce come from third countries only if they are part of collective agreements.

“After renouncing government responsibilities over the cost of living allowance (CoLa) before leaving power, shortly before leaving power the government is arbitrarily deciding to open the door to the uncontrollable and unprotected employment for third-country nationals,” Deok said.

Previously, general secretary of the chamber of commerce (Keve) Marios Tsiakis said companies are in dire straits wanting to hire more staff, calling for the issue to be solved before a new president is sworn in.

Nonetheless, the aversion to the union’s collective agreements “is not because we are allergic,” but because “we have a free economy and companies have their own rules which at the bare minimum have to adhere to the law. Why do I need to have the union in there?”

Tsiakis said the answer to workplace exploitation is better government oversight and not unions.

At present third-country nationals are allowed to work only in a few select sectors such as hospitality and agriculture.