Trade unions will hold a joint meeting on Thursday to decide their collective stance on the government’s compromise proposal regarding the cost of living allowance, not ruling out possible strike action.

The decision came on Tuesday during a gathering of the SEK, PEO, Deok and Pasydy unions, held to review the latest compromise proposal submitted by Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou.

Earlier, the four unions had called the proposal unsatisfactory, as it does not fully reinstate the cost of living allowance (CoLA).

The proposal specifies renewing the 2017 interim agreement for another three years and increasing CoLA to two-thirds of the Consumer Price Index. This would mean CoLA would go up to a 66.67 per cent share from the current 50 per cent.

Pasydy’s executive committee will meet on Wednesday at 9.30am to make a decision.

Where employers’ organisations are concerned, the Chamber of Commerce’s (Keve) 35-member board will hold a meeting at 4pm on Wednesday, while the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev) will hold a meeting on Thursday at 4pm.

The crunch meeting – featuring the unions, employers and the labour minister – will take place Friday at 10am. There, the unions will deliver their final position.

During an event held on Monday on the occasion of International Labour Day, Panayiotou expressed the hope that all parties involved would try to find a solution on CoLA.

Partial payment of CoLA resumed in January 2018, after having been frozen since July 2011. Under an agreement between the finance ministry and stakeholders, since then CoLA is paid once a year (in January) provided that the second and third quarters of the prior fiscal year register GDP growth.

Under the current arrangement, the CoLA rate is limited to half the annual rise in the Consumer Price Index.

The interim agreement of 2017 expired at the end of last year. Trade unions want a new deal raising the index-linked allowance to 100 per cent of the CPI. Employers want the allowance scrapped altogether.

Unions put their foot down, telegraphing they’d accept nothing less than a new arrangement guaranteeing the full reinstatement of CoLA, if not immediately then at least gradually over a period of time.