Union de­mands reap­pear again


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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