The government will submit a proposal over the cost of living allowance (CoLA) once the conditions for it allow, Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou said on Friday.
After a period of clashes which culminated in a strike, Friday saw all parties sitting around the table in an attempt to discuss bridging any differences. Unions are adamant that CoLA should be restored at 100 per cent, while employers say this will cripple businesses which are already struggling with soaring inflation and energy bills.
Unions have countered that the public faces the exact same expenses and as such CoLA would allow consumers more breathing space. Where government-sector employees are concerned – who all receive CoLA – fully restoring the benefit would come at an estimated €150 million, which has not been factored into the 2023 state budget.
“It is understandable and respectable that every side has its own reading of the situation, its own analysis and its own position. That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss and try to agree,” Panayiotou said after the meeting.
The government’s role in the matter is to operate as a negotiator between both parties. Panayiotou specified that although CoLA will not be scrapped, restoring it at 100 per cent cannot be viable under the current financial circumstances and the agreement between parties needs to be renewed.
“I am positive we will achieve this in the near future,” the minister said. All parties have agreed to avoid making statements over the matter so as to protect negotiations.
Asked if there has been a set percentage discussed so as to satisfy both parties, Panayiotou this had not been brought up.