Mr. Panagiotou told the Labor Committee that immediately after the approval by the Cabinet, the bill will be sent to the Parliament
From September on the carpet the strategy of employing workers from third countries
The intention of the Ministry of Labor to be brought to the session of the Council of Ministers next Thursday, the bill for the regulation of telework, was expressed by the Minister of Labor Yiannis Panagiotou.
Speaking on Tuesday before the Parliamentary Committee Labour, the Minister indicated that immediately after Cabinet approval, the Bill will be taken to Parliament, with the hope of being voted on before Parliament closes for the summer. He added that as part of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, the Republic of Cyprus has undertaken the commitment to regulate the matter in the first half of 2023.
However, as he said, because there is also a commitment to regulate the issue at the European level, if a relevant directive is approved by the EU in the meantime, the bill will be withdrawn, while if there is a directive after its passing law, European law will prevail.
As he said, the Ministry's intention is to regulate these issues in order to make more use of this flexible form of work.
< p class="text-paragraph">At the same time, the Minister was asked by MPs about the issue of granting a physical injury allowance in the event of a work accident, for workers over 63 who choose not to retire, and stated that the Government's intention is to examine the issue. The Director General of the Ministry, Andreas Zachariadis, when asked by MPs, stated that due to an omission, the issue of physical injury was not covered in a previous bill that was passed on the subject and covered the sickness allowance of this particular category of workers.
Regarding the issue of drivers on digital food distribution platforms, the Minister mentioned that a dialogue with the companies is ongoing and expressed the opinion that there is a positive mood. He noted that in this matter the term self-employed is misused, when in fact it is employees.
He expressed the assessment that the regulation of the issue in the context of a collective agreement will be positive and will be a point of reference for other European states. The director of the Department of Labor Relations, Antis Apostolou, said that they will soon inform the Minister about the options that will concern the regulation of the matter.
Regarding the issue of allowances for self-employed workers, the Minister mentioned that a plan is being made to diversify various of the allowances provided to them, upwards. However, he said that things are becoming more complex for the unemployment benefit and a more comprehensive discussion should be held within the framework of the labor advisory body. on training fees for young scientists and said that they are in discussion about the fees of young lawyers and engineers with the respective professional associations.
Regarding the paid internship of students, he said that the goal is to link academic institutions with the labor market, however, the amount of the fee should be weighed so that it does not prevent students from accessing the labor market.
< p class="text-paragraph">Regarding the issue of parental leave, the Minister said that while the relevant legislation has been passed, the technological infrastructure needed to properly implement it in practice does not exist. People are getting this leave, he said, but the procedures are not yet in place for it to be paid for. He added that the Ministry's goal is to make better use of technology so that people receive their benefits in a month.
Since September, the strategy for employing workers from third countries has been on the table.
In a discussion on the new employment strategy for workers from third countries, the Minister expressed the opinion that due to the time point we are in, that is before the start of the summer season, the legislation should be implemented in a way that will not be abused , but the operation of the tourism industry will not be hindered in view of the summer.
He emphasized again that the position of the Government is to create the Cypriot labor core of the economy which will be stable and quality and to this is added any foreign workforce to cover needs that are not covered by locals.
He noted that for the new strategy third-country workers are being pressured on both sides by both unions and employers' organizations and said the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Referring to figures for the new strategy, he said that from March 1 to May 15, 2023, the requests that have been submitted are reduced compared to the corresponding period last year, by 28.5%. It reported that the requests were 2084 this year compared to 2915 last year. He also said that requests are up for the restaurant, construction and agriculture sectors and down for hotels.
He also said that all data should be taken into account. and factored into the Fall so that a real strategy can be formulated in time and before the start of the next summer season.
Speaking to the Commission, the General Secretary of PEO Sotiroulla Charalambous said that the strategy of employing workers from third countries is yet another mechanism by employers to deregulate labor relations. He added that it is not a matter of mechanisms, but it has to do with the procedures followed and expect corrective actions to be taken.
The Secretary General of the SEC Andreas Matsas said that they have information that between the week that intervened between the approval of the new strategy and the assumption of the duties of the new Government, permits were granted en masse for the employment of people from third countries. He added that the review of the specific strategy was done without prior analysis of the market data, connection with the immigration policy and the effort to improve the tourism product of Cyprus.
The director of the Department Labor's Alexandros Alexandrou noted that there was no mass approval of applications after February 22, when the strategy was approved.
On behalf of DEOK, Deputy President Stelios Christodoulou stated that there was no social dialogue on this specific issue. Today he added, anyone who wants can work in Cyprus, while he asked for a new social dialogue to make corrections to the existing strategy.
On behalf of OEB, Polyvios Polyviou expressed the opinion that the new strategy has been consulted and social dialogue for years and at some point there had to be a decision. He added that the problem of manpower shortage is numerical and there are not enough unemployed people to fill the jobs. He asked to support the massive efforts to fill these jobs and to expand the companies by exporting products abroad.
In his statements after the Committee session, the Chairman of the Labor Committee, AKEL Member of Parliament Andreas Kavkalias, stated that the strategy for workers from third countries is the result of a unilateral decision by the previous Government and as such is a blow to the dialogue between the social partners . He noted that this is a new framework that mainly serves bad employer practices, further deregulates labor relations, undermines collective agreements, nullifies the role of technical committees and enhances the opacity of these requests. He called on the Minister of Labor to freeze the examination of all applications with the new criteria and to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the aim of forming a framework that meets the needs of the economy and protects the rights and positions of workers.
At the same time he said that they asked for the right to personal injury benefit for people who reach the age of 63 and do not retire to be resolved immediately.
Regarding the parental leave allowance, he stated that the implementation of the legislation is the sole responsibility of the competent Ministry and not of the Parliament that passed the law. , stated that all the issues of the Ministry are ongoing, discussions are taking place with the social partners with the results that the Ministry will come in September with solutions for these issues.
For foreigners workers stated that there is a goal of the Ministry to have the Cypriot body which will be strengthened with branches of foreign workers where necessary where there will be consensus of the interested parties.
He added that with a discussion between of the involved bodies, solutions can be found since there are indeed professions that Cypriot citizens are not interested in being employed, however, as he said, the working conditions must also be taken into account. He added that in September they will return to this issue to see what progress has been made.