“We are trying to achieve the best through the internationally determined data”, said Mr. Panagiotou
The hope that in the coming days efforts will be made by the social partners in a good and positive mood to reach an agreement on the ATA, the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance Yiannis Panagiotou expressed, speaking at the event organized on Monday in Nicosia by the SEC on labor May Day.
“Through social dialogue we are trying to reach agreements which, under the circumstances, are the best possible and this does not invalidate the goals set nor the need for the continuation of the games”, he underlined.< /p>
The Minister also said that if we reach an agreement, this will not be a success of the Government but a success of the social partners and added that “ATA is a very important institution and is a social conquest that must be preserved”.
Referring to the mediating proposal submitted by the Government to the social partners for the ATA, the Minister of Labor said that in order to put this proposal before the social partners, which “focuses on preserving the institution, increasing the performance in relation to the rate and in the immediate return to wages, according to the high inflation of 2022, some claimed, fought and SEK was in the vanguard”. .
He also stated that we should be proud “when we are abroad representing our country because we manage to have labor peace and labor rights that surpass other countries and a cohesive society”.
Furthermore, in his speech, the Minister of Labor said that the Government's goal “is to increase the coverage of workers with collective agreements so that we can approach the goal set at the European level and which is at the ambitious level of 80%” and added that “in order to achieve this we first need to set this as a goal and with specific steps that we are already working on to get there”.
He stated that in the previous 15 years and through the way the global economic crisis developed, approaches emerged that were closer to the direction of deregulation of labor relations.
He added that today the trend is in the direction of regulation and of adopting rules that are good not only for workers, but also for the economy, competition and entrepreneurship.
Regarding the consolidation of the public sector, Mr. Panagiotou said that better staffing is needed, especially to be able to check that those provided for in the rules and legislations are correctly applied.
In relation to security and the health of workers, the Minister of Labor said that the responsibility of the state is to protect those who work in “very difficult and dangerous conditions” and added that for this issue which will be in the next session of the Labor Advisory Body, relevant work is already being done in the Ministry.
Referring to the issue of workers' and pensioners' salaries, Mr. Panagiotou said that these should be fair and satisfactory and added that within the next few days the social partners will receive an invitation to participate in the Commission which will evaluate how the minimum wage it will work in the future.
“The Government is already in the process of preparing the supplementary budget to implement the commitment of President Christodoulides to increase the minimum pensions by 5% and the Deputy Minister of Welfare is already doing relevant work”, he underlined.
He also mentioned that “pension reform is underway so that the Social Security Fund can be sustainable for another 60 and another 60 years so that when our children are born we know that when they start working, their pension future will be secured”.
Referring to the workers in the afternoon programs of the Ministry of Education, the Minister of Labor said that within the next few days the completion of the evaluation of the work status in the programs will be announced, adding that “the tendency that exists is in the direction of the recognition of waged work” and that the decision regarding the future of the programs will also be announced which “is also very positive for the employees”.
Regarding the development of human resources, Mr. Panagiotou said that much more needs to be done in the directions imposed by the modern economic environment, while in relation to the foreign workforce, he said that “we need people from European countries or third countries to properly staff the economy, but what matters is how the Cypriot backbone of the Cypriot economy is properly built”.
The proper strengthening of the Cypriot backbone means the provision of more stable and quality services, he concluded.< /p>
The operation of a support line for workers was announced by the General Secretary of the SEC
In his speech, the General Secretary of the SEC Andreas Matsas announced the opening from today of a telephone line and helpline to support employees who experience any form of violence and harassment in work.
He stated that based on this specific service, which will be provided free of charge, employees can call 777 75 5 75 and file their complaint, which will then be managed by trade unions and technocrats, in consultation with the complainant , while at the same time psychological support and guidance will be provided by a team of clinical professionals and other psychologists.
At the same time, addressing the Minister, Mr. Matsas said that the SEC expects the strengthening and upgrading of the competent Department of the Ministry, so that “there is mutual support but also sufficient and effective management of complaints, through the required sensitivity and discretion”.< /p>
Referring to ATA, Mr. Matsas said that the Minister's proposal submitted last Friday to the social partners, “is at odds with the positions expressed by the trade union movement and for which pre-election and post-election assurances”.
“Therefore, it should be improved in terms of the gradual increase in the ATA rehabilitation rate, while ensuring full respect for the institution's philosophy and setting the time horizon for its full rehabilitation,” he added.
He stated that “the full restoration of the institution is a precursor to the extension of collective agreements to cover all employees” and added that ATA does not function as a tool for promoting social policy and is not connected to the increase in inflation and the decrease in the competitiveness of businesses”.
He also said that the SEC will not leave things to chance, but will take the initiative so that all possibilities for a positive outcome are exhausted, while there will also be a convergence of an All-Union meeting to jointly evaluate the data.
About with the extension of the application of collective agreements, the Secretary General of the SEC said that Cyprus presents coverage through collective bargaining at 43% and is in 16th place among the 27 Member States.
“The main goal should be the creation of quality and decent employment conditions, taking into account the necessary connection with the cost of living and the standard of living,” he added.
He also referred to the establishment of the Mechanism for the revision of the National Minimum Wage, so that, in the context and provision of the Decree, as he said, the conditions for adjusting the level of the Minimum Wage in January 2024 would be created in time, while he requested the immediate submission of the bill to Parliament on Teleworking, urging MPs not to remove from the bill the right to disconnect, because then it would mean employment on a 24-hour basis.
He also referred to the need to revoke or clearly improve the recent decision of the previous Council of Ministers regarding with the revision of the Employment Strategy of Workers from Third Countries.
“There is a surge in the hiring of services by foreigners from third countries – it's a party,” he said, adding that the employment of third-country nationals has increased by 83.4%, while since the day of the Strategy review, mass licenses have been granted in specific sectors and businesses “, he added.
The Secretary General of the SEC also referred to the need to speed up the procedures connected with the study conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the comprehensive reform of the pension system, while he requested the initiation of a social dialogue, within the framework of the Economic Advisory Committee, for comprehensive tax reform.
Finally, in relation to the solution of the Cyprus problem, Mr. Matsas said that an even greater effort should be made to activate the possibilities of solving the problem, highlighting the principles and values of the European Acquis, International Law and the United Nations.
“Such a perspective and development will strengthen the cooperation between all the legal residents of the place and will create the conditions for more development and social cohesion”, he concluded.
Everyone should position themselves with a sense of social responsibility in the matter of ATA, says the DG of OEB
Besides, in statements after the event on the issue of ATA, the General Director of OEB Michalis Antoniou said that “after the submission of the Minister's proposal, the margins are very limited”, adding that “regardless of the fact that it is essentially far from the aspirations of all organizations, we must all position ourselves with a sense of social responsibility, evaluating the positives and negatives and looking to the next day”.
Asked if there is room for agreement, Mr. Antoniou said that the Minister made a huge effort, utilizing and the preparatory work done by the previous Government, in order to formulate a proposal that will respect to the same extent or disappoint to the same extent all the protagonists of this effort”.
“What we owe the Minister is a serious and responsible evaluation of the proposal and positioning in a way that sees the big picture”, he added.
In response to the question of whether there will be a positive outcome to the issue of whether the OEB will come back with a proposal for a more modern institution of the ATA, Mr. Antoniou said that the OEB considers the specific system obsolete and corrosive to the competitiveness of the economy and added that at the moment “we have to overcome the short-term, and as partners to deal with the very big challenges in an explosive geopolitical environment” which, as he said, it is very threatening.