Representatives of the service industry called on the government to relax rules regarding the employment of third country nationals, citing a “massive problem” in the lack of human resources.

The call was made jointly by six trade associations, covering retail, hotels, tourism, entertainment venues, restaurant chains, and fast rood outlets, in the presence of the Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation (OEB) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve).

They said that with each passing day, they are facing growing problems due to a lack of staff and the dearth of currently unemployed Cypriot and European Union citizens currently on the island.

This, they said, is proven by the relevant statistics, and is a problem which has been exacerbated by a change in the law regarding the employment of asylum seekers in “unskilled” positions.

They said the decision took 15,000 asylum seekers out of the job market and was taken “without any forward planning”.

With this in mind, they said they are now suffering from “severe understaffing”, which is having “negative chain effects” on their ability to operate.

To this end, they called for third country nationals to be integrated into the Cypriot jobs market, calling the move “necessary and the only way forward”.

They added that the government is also currently responding too slowly to applications for work permits, despite an apparent promise to see to them within a month of submission, and called on the labour ministry to “simplify, make flexible, and accelerate” the application process.