Trade union Sek on Monday called for a strengthening of workers’ rights in Cyprus at their Pancyprian Conference in Nicosia.

Among their demands were a complete restoration of the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA), the modernisation of the apparatus regarding the employment of third country nationals, the expansion and consolidation of collective agreements, and the improvement of “weaknesses” stemming from the introduction of the minimum wage.

In addition, they called for “comprehensive” tax reform “with a green character”, highlighting their environmental sensitivities.

Also present at the conference were the secretary of the European trade unions’ confederation (Etuc) and representatives of the European economic and social committee and the general confederation of Greek workers.

Sek general secretary Andreas Matsas said Etuc’s presence “demonstrates Sek’s European orientation” and “shows the support the union has from European trade unions to support workers”.

Speaking of the conference’s policy platform, he said the full reinstatement of CoLA is “non-negotiable” and said it should be “the government’s priority”. He added that such a move would “protect workers from the erosion of their salaries which has been seen with inflation”.

Regarding the matter of the employment of third country nationals, he said the permission of employment for asylum seekers should not constitute “deregulation of the labour market” and should instead be part of a wider modern immigration policy.

In addition, he also spoke about the matter of artificial intelligence, saying collective agreements between workers and employers should be created “to ensure a smooth transition”.

He added that the government should also create a relevant legislative framework “to prevent the misuse of technology and the degradation of human dignity, and to protect personal data”.

Additionally, he said “a moral basis should be established and clarified regarding the activities, both professional and otherwise, which are connected to artificial intelligence.”

Following the conference, a delegation from Sek travelled to the presidential palace to meet with President Nikos Christodoulides and Finance Minister Makis Keravnos.