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What the Minister of Labor Yannis Panagiotou said to “SPORT FM 95.0” and the show “DISPORA IDISSEON”

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Regarding the employment of workers from third countries, the Matsa complaints, the renewal of the collective agreement in the hotel industry and maternity leave, the Minister of Labor Yannis Panagiotou spoke to “SPORT FM 95.0” and the program “NEWS DISTRIBUTION”. Regarding the first issue, the Minister clarified that according to the actual data, the additional needs in 2024 amount to 12,000 workers in total. “The needs for additional work permits for third-country nationals are estimated to be around 4-6 thousand, which means that these numbers will fluctuate at the same level as in 2022 and 2023.” He added that the goals are twofold. “The first is to staff the labor market and to make rational use of European citizens and nationals of foreign countries and at the same time to make the most of domestic human resources.” According to the Minister, the number of third country nationals who have secured a work permit in Cyprus and have an activated contract with their employer amounts to 14,423 so far. In 2022, 5,108 new work permits for nationals were approved and in 2023, 4,941.

He asked for information on the Matsa complaints

In relation to the complaints of the CEO of the SEC, Andreas Matsa, that companies are threatening Cypriot workers with mass layoffs, Mr. Panagiotou said that he requested that specific cases be transferred to him by name, so that the necessary control can be carried out and to determine whether it is confirmed this information. At the same time, he clarified that based on the law, an employer who dismissed workers in the previous period cannot secure permits to employ third-country nationals. However, Mr. Matsas, in his statements yesterday to “DISPORA NEWS”, said that if the pending review of the strategy for the employment of workers from third countries continues without a conclusion soon, “then we will enter a sensitive period of time that things may not develop smoothly”.

Ready to mediate the contract in hotels

Referring to the consultations on the renewal of collective agreements in the hotel industry, the Minister said that in this case a practice is applied that when a dispute is found between the two sides an attempt is made to mediate. “A preparatory work is still being carried out between the two sides through the exchange of positions. I am in communication with them, I have an idea of ​​the positions that were submitted and we are ready as soon as we need to intervene to do so”. However, the General Director of the Association of Cyprus Tourism Enterprises, Chrysaimili Psilogeni, spoke of unrealistic requests from the hotel industry unions for the renewal of the collective agreement. Speaking to “NEWS DISTRIBUTION” he said “we have not yet entered into negotiations, we have received the demands of the guilds which are unrealistic and cost a 32% increase compared to last year. This is an unheard of number, we probably live in another universe,” he said, pointing out that there can be no meaningful dialogue.

Maternity leave and self-employed mothers

Mr. Panagiotou also referred to the bill approved today by the Council of Ministers and regarding the increase of maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks. As he mentioned, it is expected that approximately 5,000 new working mothers will benefit annually, while all new mothers who have recently had their first child and who, at the time of the approval of the Bill, will not have completed the utilization of the 18 weeks of the existing duration of maternity leave, to which the 4 weeks of increased duration of maternity leave will be added. Specifically, the Bill provides for an increase in the duration of maternity leave from 18 to 22 weeks for the first child through birth or surrogate mother, and from 16 to 20 weeks for the first child through adoption, while also increasing the additional maternity leave due to hospitalization of the infant after birth, from 6 to 8 weeks. Asked why the increase in maternity leave only applies to the first child, the Minister of Labor said that the decision was made based on the current capabilities of the Social Insurance Fund. Asked to say if and how self-employed mothers benefit, Mr. Panagiotou said “it is a fact that self-employed workers have fewer benefits. We have already submitted a bill to the House of Representatives to extend benefits to the self-employed so that they can take advantage of parental leave and receive the bodily injury allowance in case of accidents”.

On the open line with Hellenic Bank

Finally, regarding the acquisition of Hellenic Bank by Eurobank, Mr. Panagiotou said that he is in communication with both the employer and the trade union side, so that the renewal of the contract will take place smoothly, with positive developments for both Hellenic Bank and its employees.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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