Civil service trade unions on Tuesday rejected the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had called for the rationalisation of salary scales and expenditures related to the state payroll.

The unions – Pasydy, Poed, Oelmek, Oltek, Pasyki, Pasyno, Sak, Supyk, the National Guard Officers association, and the National Guard Non-Commissioned Officers association – issued a joint statement saying the recommendations contained in the IMF study “aim to undermine the workers’ rights”.

They will also request detailed information from the finance ministry regarding the study’s content, in addition to reassurances there will be no reduction in the rights and benefits of public employees.

“Should the government choose to adopt the IMF’s recommendations, we will take immediate and decisive action,” the unions said.

According to reports, the study, based on international and European standards, aims to increase productivity and correct any distortions identified within the state system.

It called for the abolition of the Cost-of-Living allowance (Cola) and of the 13th salary, offering pay rises every two years rather than annually as it currently stands.

The IMF argued that the current structure of the public sector in Cyprus is not productive.

It also found that public salaries in Cyprus are significantly higher compared to other European countries, and that a great deal of public servants do not perform adequately given their remuneration.

The study also argued that there is a large wage gap between the public and private sector.

On the crucial issue of Cola, the unions reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a comprehensive and final agreement for its full implementation, based on its intended purpose.

They also stressed the need to extend it to private sector employees through collective agreements.

“In order to address the wage gap between the public and private sectors, the solution is not to reduce benefits and salaries in the public sector but to improve them in the private sector,” the unions said.

“Implementing the IMF’s recommendations could lead to an economic recession with severe consequences.”