If the issue of undeclared work is not dealt with soon, it will become a much bigger problem, Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou said on Friday.

The minister was speaking at a conference for builders and tradespeople in the construction industry where the vast majority of illegal workers were employed.

“We have before us important and difficult problems, especially for undeclared work which is very worrying and if not addressed soon it will be a much bigger problem than we assess it to be today,” the minister said.

Panayiotou also expressed optimism for the renewal of the collective agreement in the construction sector. The institutional framework for dealing with undeclared work was also undergoing an overhaul, the minister said.

This would be presented to the House plenum before the summer recess. Parliament closed on Thursday until after the European Parliament elections on June 9 and will resume again until July 20 when they break for the summer.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to agree on the new framework,” Panayiotou said.

He also said the protection of wages for young workers in the construction industry was not only the position of the Peo union nor just of the government alone.

“It is the position of the EU where for countries like ours where the coverage of collective agreements is limited there should be legislative provisions that protect minimum wages in the sector and this will be part of our discussion which is in the final stages,” he added.

“As the world evolves and as our expectations for quality of life rise, the terms and conditions of work must improve and not worsen.”