Intervention by Sotiroulla Charalambous, General Secretary of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) at the International Conference  in the Congress of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK)

Intervention by Sotiroulla Charalambous, General Secretary of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) at the International Conference  in the Congress of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK)

7 February 2024

On behalf of the General Council of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) and the working people of Cyprus, permit me to convey to you all our warm and militant greetings.

We are in a period when world peace is being threatened as a result of ongoing imperialist wars and fierce rivalry for the control of energy resources and global markets.

Israel’s crimes and ongoing genocide against the Palestinians continue with the tolerance shown by the international community, whilst the clouds of war in the Middle East are gathering, creating enormous dangers for peace with unforeseen consequences for the peoples.

We have a duty to demand an end to the genocide and to stand by the Palestinian people who have been suffering for decades under Israeli occupation.

We workers must rally our forces in the struggle to end tensions, war conflicts and interventions, for world peace to prevail.

The capitalist crisis and the neoliberal anti-social policies being imposed by the ruling political forces have led to the impoverishment of the peoples and to the dramatic widening of social inequalities as the privileged few accumulate wealth at the expense of the majority.

In addition, inflation, high prices and energy poverty are worsening people’s living standards.

At the same time, capital and the dominant political forces are promoting policies for the deregulation of labour, intensifying their attacks on workers’ rights, the right to organise and trade union activity, the right to strike.

In Cyprus, as in the rest of the world, working people are suffering the consequences of the imposition of neoliberal policies that have led to the deregulation of labour relations, the reduction in the scope of collective agreements and rate of trade union organisation.

These policies have led to an unprecedented shift of wealth from labour to capital and dramatically widened social inequalities.  As an example, over the last ten years about 10% of national income has been shifted from wages to profits. 

Despite the pressure we came under during the period of the economic crisis, and in a difficult environment, we defended working people’s trade union and social gains.  

Through mobilisations and struggles, we managed to maintain collective agreements in important sectors of the economy, as well as important achievements such as Provident Funds and the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).

Today we continue these struggles by asserting protection and the extension of collective agreements, guaranteed basic rights for all workers, the full restoration of the COLA for all working people, improvements in wages and a dignified minimum wage.

Alongside the class and social struggles being waged, we continue in cooperation with the progressive Turkish Cypriot trade union organisations to develop joint actions such as, for example, the joint celebration of Worker’s May Day and the International Day of Trade Union action for Peace, aiming at the reunification of our homeland on the basis of a Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation.

As Cypriot working people we are particularly concerned about the course of the Cyprus problem which is at its most critical juncture.  Unfortunately, the stagnation surrounding the Cyprus problem continues, with the result that the prospect of a permanent partition is becoming increasingly visible.  As long as the division continues, we know that no worker’s gain and right can be taken for granted.

A solution to the Cyprus problem will contribute towards building peace and prosperity for all the peoples and countries in the region, including Turkey too.

As part of the working class we are united by many things whilst nothing divides us. We therefore have a duty to work for peace and cooperation for the benefit of our peoples.

In conclusion, permit me to assure you once again that you can count on the class solidarity of PEO in your daily struggles for peace and democracy, for the defence of working people’s rights and for a society free from exploitation and social injustice.