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Labor Minister seeks compromise on foreign workers

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Labor Minister seeks compromise on foreign workers

Yiannis Panayiotou Labor Minister

    In an effort to bridge the gap between trade unions and employer organizations, Labor Minister, Giannis Panagiotou, has proposed a more collaborative approach to licensing foreign workers.

    This initiative comes after nearly a year of tension surrounding the current strategy for employing third-country nationals.

    Minister Panagiotou's proposal, formally delivered on Wednesday, follows a series of meetings with social partners. It outlines a significant upgrade to the existing Monitoring Committee, fostering greater involvement from all stakeholders.

    This revamped body, chaired by the Minister himself, would oversee the entire foreign worker licensing process, including procedures and living conditions for these employees.

    A key aspect of the proposal involves providing social partners with real-time updates on applications for foreign workers. However, the ultimate authority to approve or reject applications would remain with the Ministry of Labour.

    This development marks a potential turning point in a year-long dispute. Trade unions have been vocal critics of the current strategy, implemented by the previous government.

    They argue there was insufficient consultation during its development and have called for a return to the previous system’s sectoral technical committees, which reviewed applications.

    Employer organizations, while welcoming the expedited processing times introduced under the new strategy, have advocated for further streamlining of procedures.

    The success of the Minister’s proposal hinges to a large extent on the response from the trade unions, who have previously threatened industrial action.

    Their reaction to the suggestions, expected early next week, will be critical in determining whether an agreement that satisfies all parties can be reached.

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