Until next Tuesday, the Minister of Labor Kyriakos Kousios will make his decisions regarding the renewal of the agreement for the Automatic Price Adjustment (ATA), as he declared himself, after a meeting he had in the morning with the social partners.
Despite the movements that the Minister found in the positions of the two sides, he realized, as he said, that they are still far enough apart that to submit a mediation proposal.
Mr. Kousios clarified that the Government is not in favor of abolishing the ATA and reminded that it is the President of the Republic Nikos Anastasiadis who has reinstated the ATA. The matter under discussion, he clarified, is exclusively the renewal or amendment of the social partners' agreement of July 2017.
“There have been some moves from the known positions that have been made public from time to time. The trade union movement let me understand that it is ready to accept a gradual reinstatement of ATA. On the other hand, the employer side accepts the agreement of July 2017 and undertakes to implement it, i.e. the payment of 50% of the ATA”, he said.
However, he added that these movements are not in his opinion satisfactory yet, to be able to make a mediation proposal.
“They are a long way off and I have asked for one last credit of time. Until next Tuesday evening, I will have new contacts, but next Tuesday after I have worked with the officials of the Ministry and after I have informed both the Minister of Finance and certainly the President of the Republic I will make my decisions, if and to what extent I will declare a deadlock or if I will submit a mediation proposal,” he said.
Noting that next Tuesday there will be the final result, he said how whether he will have another meeting with the social partners next Tuesday will depend on the contacts that will have.
Asked about the union movement's looming decision to strike, Mr Kousios said the last thing anyone wants in today's economic environment is labor unrest. I have repeatedly said that the small economy of our country is directly and drastically affected by developments, it is a small economy and at the slightest thing it can have adverse developments and nothing is given in the economy, not at all given. It's something I avoid,” he said.
Mr. Kousios that he will not stop trying to reach a solution, however he added that it depends on the social partners. He added that the Minister of Labor does not have the authority to impose decisions, nor can the Government decide.
“It is purely a matter of concluding the dialogue between the partner societies. I will invoke for the umpteenth time the responsibility and seriousness of the social partners”, he said.
He added that in 2017 on July 28 they reached a transitional agreement that was valid until the end of 2020. In December 2020 they signed a new agreement that extended the validity of the previous agreement until 12/31/2021. He asked “why can't we find a new agreement”.
He appealed to the social partners to rise to the occasion, saying that the place cannot have labor unrest.
Answering another question, Mr. Kousios said that the agreement has not expired and that the last paragraph of the agreement itself provides that 50% of ATA will continue to be paid until they reach a new agreement. It is this, as he said, another move by the employer side which will honor the agreement and pay 50% of the ATA. That, he added, means it hasn't expired.
At the same time, Mr. Kousios said that in a meeting he had after the Council of Ministers with the President of the Republic, he informed him about the developments and told him what his assessments are. The President authorized him to continue the consultation and brief him.
Asked if the President was in favor of making a proposal, he said that would depend on the recommendation he would make to the President in the coming days.
It is illegal to pay unemployment benefits to employees who left voluntarily
When asked about the Social Insurance Fund's decision not to provide unemployment benefits to bank employees who voluntarily left their jobs and received compensation, Mr. Kousios said that there was a court decision that did not do justice to the applicant.
“When we were informed of the decision, we requested a legal opinion from the Attorney General, who confirmed that according to the provisions of the law, the unemployment benefit cannot be paid to the specific retired bank employees,” he said.
He added that this applies not only to bank employees but to anyone voluntarily leaving under a scheme.
He also noted that he was informed today that they received a letter from the Audit Office asking them to recover the amounts previously given to employees who voluntarily retired.
He added that he is hearing statements from candidates that the unemployment and wonders how it will be paid if the law, the court decision, the opinion of the Attorney General is there.
“In what way? Shall we outlaw? If there is an authorization of the law, we will certainly do it, as we did,” he said.
He said that it is not fair that previous ex-servicemen have been given unemployment benefits and today they are not doing it, but he questioned whether they should continue to do so. the mistake they made in the past.
“It is a fervent request that we limit ourselves to the matters authorized by the law. And it's very simple, let them amend the legislation,” he said.
Since they have identified the issue, we must be law-abiding and apply the provisions of the law, he concluded.