Decision of the Extraordinary Pancyprian Conference of PEO on the 80th anniversary of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

Decision of the Extraordinary Pancyprian Conference of PEO on the 80th anniversary of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

PEO Conference Hall, Nicosia, 26 February 2024

The delegates to the Extraordinary Pancyprian Anniversary Conference to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the great strike of 1 March 1944 for the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), after the speech of the General Secretary of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour PEO comrade Sotiroulla Charalambous, and the discussion that subsequently followed, decided the following:

1. To express their satisfaction and welcome the decision of PEO to commemorate this historic anniversary for the working people. Such events, apart from their festive character, help us to remember our movement’s history, to draw lessons from the struggles waged and to use them in our daily actions.

2. To reiterate that the COLA is an important tool to protect working people’s living standards, helping them to maintain the purchasing power of their wages when the cost of living increases due to inflation.

3. Proclaim that, as then, the struggle for the COLA is not easy today. The employers and political forces that serve their interests are opposed to the implementation of the COLA and are trying to weaken the struggle of the working people. To this end, they put forward various arguments that COLA supposedly harms the economy’s competitiveness, creates further inflation, etc., with the aim of denigrating and abolishing the COLA.

The delegates to the Conference express their strong concern about the fact that the Finance Minister of the Christodoulides Government, in his statements, is fully in line with the employers’ positions on interconnecting the COLA on the basis of criteria such as competitiveness and productivity.

4. They call on the government to clarify its position on the issue of the COLA, to respect the timeframes as predetermined for the dialogue and to contribute towards a final and permanent agreement that should restore the COLA on the basis of its philosophy as provided for in the 2017 agreement, without elements that degenerate and erode the custom.

5. Expect the Government to immediately initiate a structured social dialogue for fulfilling the objective of expanding the cover provided by collective agreements, an element that will lead to the extension of the COLA to cover a larger number of working people, as well as the inclusion of the COLA as a criterion for the annual adjustment of the minimum wage.

6. The delegates to the Conference, bearing in mind the positions expressed by employers’ organisations calling for the abolition of the COLA or for the change or even the deconstruction of its philosophy, call on workers and trade unions to remain vigilant, to continue to rally their forces and to fight, not only to ensure the protection of the COLA and its preservation as a custom, but also to extend it to cover all workers in all sectors of the economy.

7. Finally, the delegates to the Conference, expressing the thousands of workers-members of PEO they represent, wish to declare once again that they are ready to rise to the occasion and prove themselves worthy of the glorious history of PSE-PEO and like the heroic striking workers of 1944, who in very difficult conditions remained united and class-oriented and achieved their goals, so today, learning from their shining example, they will wage the battle to protect and extend this great gain for the workers, and for the country in general.

The Conference

26 February 2024