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Government nears decision on minimum wage

Labour minister, minimum wage, workers
Minister of Labour Yiannis Panayiotou at the meeting of the Labour Advisory Council

Around 25,000 low-paid workers may see an increase in their income once the government finalises its talks on minimum wage, Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou said on Friday, as discussions are slated to carry on into next week.

Though Panayiotou did not disclose any specifics, he said the differences between what the various stakeholders wanted was “smaller than what one may think”. Yet, he highlighted that not everyone will be 100 per cent happy.

The minister highlighted there was broad consensus that the minimum wage should be increased but the diverging views were about how much the increase should be.

Talks are expected to wrap up in the next few days, and the government will announce its decision next week, Panayiotou said.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the labour advisory board, the minister underscored they also discussed the strategy on employing third-country nationals, and in particular students from third countries.

They also broached the subject of linking the labour market to the migration flows, though Panayiotou did not delve into more details.

The board will convene again on Monday and Tuesday to discuss minimum wage, he added, while he also sought to give credit to his predecessors Zeta Emilianidou and Kyriacos Koushios that institutionalised minimum wage.

“This was an important step in the right direction, with a positive impact on employees, and without any negative consequences to the economy.”

Panayiotou sought to assuage any concerns, saying “our decisions will be balanced and substantiated, in line with the needs of society and the potential of the economy, in the context of socio-economic responsibility that must characterise public policies to serve the public interest,” he underscored.

Asked to comment on the positions between unions and companies, the minister said each side placed different emphasis on different aspects of the statistics, whether that be increased cost of living or increased operation costs.

“It is understandable and clear that whatever our final decision is, it cannot satisfy everyone’s positions as they have been expressed.”

Nonetheless, Panayiotou said the decision would be fair and balanced which will positively impact between 20,000 to 25,000 low-paid workers.

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