The Extraordinary Pancyprian Congress of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) convened on Wednesday, 7 September 2022, to examine the issues that arise for working people following the government’s decision and decree on the minimum wage. After briefing Congress delegates with the submission of the introductory speech by the General Secretary of PEO, after a thorough discussion between delegates, Congress decided the following:

1. To approve the handling of the above issue made by the competent leadership bodies of PEO in the preceding period, as well as the introductory speech to Congress delivered by the General Secretary of PEO, Sotiroula Charalambous.

2. The 27th and 28th Congress of PEO, after analyzing the dramatic changes that occurred in the socio-economic model of Cyprus as a result of the financial crisis and the extreme neoliberal policies pursued by the government and the subsequent effects of the health crisis on working people, concluded that these policies led also to the reversal of the system of labour relations which was based on the high trade union density and organization through which the regulation of basic terms of employment were imposed with Collective Agreements.

With the aim of restoring a minimum social balance, we demanded the State’s intervention with the implementation of measures and regulations to put a stop to the phenomena of deregulation and cheap labour without basic labour rights. 

More specifically, we demanded the following: The introduction of institutional measures to ensure the obligation to implement the basic terms of sectoral Collective Labour Agreements for all working people in the sectors covered by Collective Labour Agreements.  The introduction of statutory minimum rights – salary, fixed working hours, overtime pay, holidays, the 13th month salary, indexation – for those working people not covered by Collective Labour Agreements. 

We set these objectives in a very clear and specific manner before the Ministry of Labour when the government, after the pressure exerted by the trade union movement, initiated the discussion surrounding the minimum wage.

3. Congress concludes that the government, by its decisions, fully adopting the employers’ positions, has approved a decree on the minimum wage which far from creates a basic framework of elementary rights for those working people not protected by trade union organisations.

4. Congress reiterates that under no circumstances will it consent to the legitimisation of the phenomena of unregulated working hours, the extension of working hours without overtime pay and the possibility of the questioning of the high-level agreement reached between employers’ and workers’ organisations in 1992 for the reduction of working hours from 40 to 38 hours per week in all key sectors of the economy. Congress strongly denounces the challenge of that agreement by employers, once again with the connivance of the government. 

5. The regulation of key issues such as holidays, the 13th month salary and indexation is also absent from the decree, which leaves the most vulnerable working people unprotected.

6. Congress reiterates its opposition to the non-inclusion in the minimum wage of large sections of working people who are particularly vulnerable.  It also expresses its grave concern about the possibility given to employers of a 25% lower minimum wage for young people under 18 for up to 2 months’ work because it will be used by employers to perpetuate the recycling of cheap casual employment.

7. Regarding the level of the minimum wage itself, it is confirmed by the reactions of working people and society that it cannot meet the current cost of living needs and the notion of dignified living. The monthly increase of around EUR 15 per month, after 11 years, bearing in mind the constant price increases and galloping inflation of around 10%, is a provocation and a depreciation for working people. 

8. By refusing to clearly regulate in the decree that where and when there are minimum wages agreed by Collective Labour Agreements these will be the legal, compulsory wages, the government contributes to and legitimises the perpetuation of the phenomena of refusing to implement Collective Agreements, especially sectoral Collective Agreements. In essence, the government becomes complicit in violations and in the existence of two-speed workers and unfair competition between companies within the same branch and sector.

9. In view of the above negative findings, Congress decides to intensify the struggles in order to achieve the objectives set by the 28th Congress of PEO.

  • It calls on the PEO affiliated trade unions to intensify their efforts for the introduction of institutional regulations that will make basic conditions compulsory for all workers in a given sector during the procedure for the renewal of the sectoral Collective Agreements.
  • It calls on the PEO affiliated trade unions to react immediately and vigorously, in sectors or workplaces that are covered by Collective Labour Agreements and where wages are higher than the minimum wage, in those cases where attempts are being made to hire workers on the minimum wage.
  • In the immediate period ahead, a nationwide campaign to inform working people in both organised and unorganised workplaces will be carried out.

10. Congress addresses an appeal to all working people, both organised and unorganised, as well as to the rest of the trade union movement, to unite their forces in the struggle for comprehensive regulations that will guarantee minimum rights to all working people and for the protection and strengthening of Collective Labour Agreements.

11. Congress, having assessed the facts as they have evolved since the government’s decision on the minimum wage, the tremendous pressure working people are coming under as a result of the ongoing and intensifying wave of price hikes in basic consumer goods, electricity and fuel, reaffirms and underlines the demand for substantive measures to protect working people, fully restore the Automatic Cost of Living Allowance and its application for all workers. 

To this end, Congress authorized the Executive Council of PEO to proceed with the organisation of a Pancyprian worker’s’ mobilization.  Contacts will be made with the rest of the trade union movement in the period ahead with the aim of ensuring a united and collective response on the part of working people.