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SEK underlines CoLA remains its main priority

CoLA strike, demonstration, protest
Workers demonstrating for CoLA to be paid earlier this year Photo: Christos Theodorides

Trade union SEK on Tuesday said its main priorities were the full restoration of CoLA, extending collective agreements, and addressing the employment of third-country nationals.

Speaking after a meeting of its council, SEK general secretary Andreas Matsas said the full reinstatement of the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA) is their key objective.

“SEK’s clear position is that CoLA should be fully restored, even if gradually, within the framework of the transitional agreement, which explicitly refers to safeguarding the philosophy of the institution,” Matsas explained.

He emphasised that there is no thought being given to differentiating from that path, as CoLA helps boost the purchasing power of wages, in a period when workers are being tested by the cost of living and rising interest rates.

SEK’s council also discussed the “unilateral revision” which saw the expansion of sectors open to third-country workers.

Cabinet recently decided to raise the percentage of third country nationals allowed to be employed by businesses from 30 to 50 per cent of the total workforce.

Matsas criticised the move as one which will create distortions in the labour market, likely deepen competition between workers and employers while even creating the conditions for further unemployment.

He decried the policy of more third-country workers as being out of synch with both the stated migration policy and that of improving quality within the tourism sector. Matsas queried whether all the sectors opened to the third-country nationals truly needed the added labour force.

Indeed, Panicos Argyrides, a representative of Sek, previously told the Cyprus Mail that “it was all very rushed. The workers’ rights cannot be subject to arbitrary decisions, they need to be addressed correctly and comprehensively”.

Elsewhere, Matsas detailed that the council called for a mechanism to be established for the revision of the national minimum wage, a remote-working bill to be submitted to parliament, along with discussions on the reform of the pension system.

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