"I am not leaving the Ministry without a review of the Strategy for the employment of workers from third countries," the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance Kyriakos Kousios said yesterday, Wednesday, February 1, in the context of the Ministry's work report.
A few days before the February 5 Presidential elections, Mr. Kousios stated that although he is criticized by trade unions on the issue, sectors such as agriculture and the tourism industry cannot be left without workers since there is no interest from Cypriot workers.
"There is no way I will leave the Ministry without adopting a new employment strategy and I want this message to be clear in every direction. This Government has executive power until February 28. Until February 28, I will perform my duties as Minister of Labor and Social Insurance and I am not going to postpone any performance of my duties and give it to the next one".
In fact, he clarified that this issue of the employment of workers from third countries is the responsibility of the Council of Ministers, in contrast to the issue of Automatic Price Indexation. "The issue of ATA is something that, once you decide on it, stays and is not like the issue of policy change for employment from third countries, which if a decision is taken by the Council of Ministers and does not satisfy the next Government, it can be amended immediately. We said that if the new Government takes over, we should not bind it if it wants to take any catalytic initiative".
SEC – "Avoid hasty actions"
However, the SEC sent a letter to Mr. Kousios calling on him to avoid hasty actions on the issue of the strategic employment of foreigners from third countries and to leave the issue to be managed by the next Government.
"The selective promotion of an issue that serves the expediency and interests of the employer side causes sadness and reflection. We believe that similar sensitivity (in terms of the time management of the issue) was not shown for the issue of ATA".
The letter emphasizes that the issue of the employment of foreign labor personnel is an extremely critical issue that affects the entire market and should have been preceded by sufficient social dialogue.
According to the SEC, especially the needs of the tourism-hotel industry, must be completely identified with the identity that we want the Cypriot tourism product to have in the next many years.
"The implementation of the collective agreement must be a condition for the granting of permits, so that conditions of exploitation of the workers are not created."
PEO – "Heterogeneous and one-sided decisions"
For its part, the PEO states that Mr. Kousios promotes "unbiased and one-sided" decisions that satisfy the positions of the employers' side and requests the withdrawal of the document on the Strategy for the employment of workers from third countries, warning with measures where unilateral implementation of the strategy is found .
"While for ATA, the mediation actions of the Minister were terminated, referring the matter to the next government, for the Employment Strategy of Workers from third countries, a matter which clearly concerns the respective government policies on labor relations, employment and human resources , you promote decisions that are biased and one-sided that satisfy the positions of the employers' side, a few days before the end of your term".
"It is clear that what is being attempted is to expand the ability of employers to use cheap foreign labor, which widens deregulation and further reduces the reach of Collective Bargaining Agreements," it added.
DEOK – The three reasons it does not accept
Finally, the DEEK states in its letter to the Minister of Labor Kyriakos Kousios that it does not accept the arrangements included in the new proposed strategy for the employment of workers from third countries.
"The issue of the modernization of the strategy has been raised by the trade unions since 2018 without an essential social dialogue being held to date. A common component of the positions of all the organizations was the granting of employment permits on the basis of documented needs of the economy and the full implementation of the sectoral collective agreements.
In its letter, DEOK explains the three reasons it does not accept the new strategy. The first reason, as he says, is that the condition of sufficient social dialogue was not met, the second is because the positions of trade unions are not taken into account at all, which aim to ensure the equal treatment of all workers through the application of collective agreements, and the third is because it is strengthened the uncontrolled employment of workers from third countries resulting in further deregulation.
The EEC makes a request to the Minister to respect the labor institutions of the country by referring this important issue to the next Government for a meaningful and comprehensive social dialogue, warning that it will not accept pre-made decisions and policies that essentially turn Cyprus into a country of cheap labor force .