Union demands reappear again
E DII TO RII A L
Meeting with trade union leaders overt the past few weeks, Finance Minister Haris Georghiades should not give in to their demands, which have resumed, just because we seem to have exited the bailout MoU and now there is no Troika around. However, it was these mistakes of the past (the automated cost of living allowance, rigid employment terms and lack of transferability) that led to the economic crisis.
There is no doubt that the state has some responsibility to restitute the losses incurred by the provident funds that had been deposited at Laiki bank, as the whole banking sector meltdown and reasons that led to it, were after all the responsibility of the state, due to the haphazarad way it was resolved and the lack of proper governance and transparency in the years before
If the state plans to satisfy some of the union demands ( COLA abolition and total reform should remain the government’s number 1 priority), then it should also ask for something in return – a freeze on new jobs, buying services from the private sector, even foreclosue on some state land that was generously dished out like candy in the past to trade unions (paid for by the taxpayer). These properties have been developed with taxpayers’ money and remain available only to the privileged trade union members and not the general public or all workers. And worse, these properties remain idle for nine months in a year, incurring higher costs to maintain them.
The employers federation (OEV), met with Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou saying that although things have improved, the economy remains fragile, with great challenges ahead, especially for companies that have to service loans and constantly try to find means to survive.
It has called for the total liberalisation of the shopping hour regulations in order to boost the retail sector. Also, it is imperative to introduce regulations that put an end to strikes in essential services, as was the case kin recent weeks with port workers and airport handlers walking off, disrupting the trade and tourism sectors.
The employers have also sought to reduce their contributions to the redundancy fund, in order to allow business to breathe and have called on the state to re-invest the surplus amounts from the Social Insurance Fund.
Other flexible labour laws and regulations are also needed in order to make Cyprus products and service more competitive, yet again, but equally important is whether the government will choose the path of reason or once again give in to union demands.