Cap on Croatian workers, EU labourers exceed jobless
The Cyprus government is implementing limitations on employing Croatian citizens, at a time when unemployment remains at a record high of 16% and an independent study called for a ban on all foreign workers.
“The government is very sensitive on the issue of unemployment,” Labour Minister Zeta Emilianides said on Friday after a damning report by the Institute of Demographics and Migration Policies claimed that 200,000 EU and third country workers are depriving local of jobs.
Emilianides refuted allegations that EU citizens were getting benefits. She said that 5,000 households, all Cypriots, are receiving the Guaranteed Minimum Income welfare package introduced last year, and that only EU citizens with an at least five-year permanent stay on the island are eligible for GMI. She added that the Ministry has just concluded a bill on undeclared work, that foresees high administrative fines and even suspension of the business activity, in some cases.
The Institute report suggested that 4,142 EU citizens received unemployment benefit from the Social Insurance Fund in the first half of last year, adding that in July 2014 the total number of foreign workers, from the EU and third countries, was 99,972, while the number of Cypriot registered unemployed was 46,727. However, bith figures were in decline as in July 2013 foreign workers were 103,278, while jobless Cypriots were 48,001.
Vice Chairman of the Institute Andreas Morphitis invoked a European Court of Justice ruling that EU member states must have the possibility of refusing social benefits to economically inactive EU citizens.
The report included a series of proposals, among which a comprehensive study by the Government over the employment of foreign workers, based on the conditions prevailing in the economy and the labour market.