The working people of Cyprus celebrate Worker’s May Day this year too in difficult and unprecedented conditions which have been forced on it by the pandemic.

We celebrate International Worker’s Day by paying tribute to Chicago’s pioneering martyrs, who with their heroic uprising marked the struggle for paid work. At the same time, we pay tribute to the leaders of the Cypriot worker’s movement, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who paved the way for the organization of workers and collective assertion.

More than a year after the pandemic broke out, the losses for humanity are both visible and painful. Millions of human lives have been lost, while the vast majority of our fellow human beings are struggling to survive in the face of unemployment, insecurity and poverty.

The pandemic has highlighted even more the contradictions and inequalities of modern society. Every day we observe our fellow human beings around the world dying as a result of deficiencies in health systems, while humanity’s hope for immunization through vaccinations has been subordinated to the logic of commercialization and competition between the big multinational companies.

The Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) unites its voice with the voice of workers around the world who are demanding that every person must be ensured access to adequate and quality health services, free access to vaccines and the protection of human and labour rights.

For more than a year now in Cyprus we have been going through difficult conditions, thousands of workers due to restrictive measures haven’t been working and are forced to live on benefits. Others are teleworking at home, small and medium-sized businesses subject to repeated lockdowns are being destroyed, while young people who were waiting to join the labour force remain inactive.

Social problems are mounting. Social inequalities are widening and the risk of this crisis too being used to further deregulate work and wage new attacks on working people’s wages and rights is evident.

The government must take immediate measures to support working people’s labour and social rights right now and not later sometime in the future with vague pledges and promises. These measures must be implemented right now when workers are vulnerable in the face of fear and insecurity generated by a developing socio-economic crisis. As long as the government links the issue of the regulation of minimum wages and salaries for workers with the existence of full-employment conditions, it is in essence equally responsible for the deregulation of labour relations and the widening of social inequality.

We assert the protection of working people’s rights from the state through:

  • Legislation so that the basic terms of sectoral collective agreements become mandatory for companies in the given sector,
  • Institutionalization of a tripartite mechanism through which minimum wages and benefits will be set for those not covered by collective agreements.
  • Ensuring the superiority of Collective Agreements over personal employment contracts.
  • Termination of the unacceptable policy of purchasing services in which the public and semi-public sectors are unfortunately playing a leading role today.
  • combatting the use of so-called “flexible” forms of employment as a means of exploiting and deregulating labour relations.
  • Modernization of the policy employing working people from third countries.
  • Institutionalization of Standard Professional Qualifications.

At the same time, we demand measures to strengthen and expand the welfare state.

  • Abolition of the 12% penalty for those workers who opt to retire at 63, review and modernization of the social insurance system with the aim of ensuring dignified pensions and benefits for workers.
  • Introduction of a paid parental leave scheme.
  • Strengthen and modernize the public health system. Addressing the problems in the operation of the National Health Scheme and in beneficiaries groups such as low-income pensioners.
  • Creation of a comprehensive network of care services for children and infants, establishment of long-term care infrastructures for the elderly and disabled, by the state and local authorities.
  • subsidizing the cost of childcare on the basis of socio-economic criteria.
  • Social housing programs and financial subsidy programs for families on low incomes with regards covering rental costs.
  • Effective measures to prevent the foreclosure of primary family homes and small business properties.

Worker’s May Day is also a day of reaffirming our firm commitment to the struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our homeland and people.

Together with the progressive Turkish Cypriot trade unions, despite the restrictions imposed, we are continuing our joint action by all possible means in this direction.

We will never compromise with the idea of ​​partition.

We remain committed to the goal of the solution of bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. For one state, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, demilitarized and independent, without any protectors and ‘guardians’.

In the difficult conditions of the crisis, where social deadlocks are accumulating and working people’s conditions are becoming more and more difficult, Parliamentary elections are due to take place on 30th May. These elections are crucial for our country’s future and perspective.

PEO, a component part of our People’s Movement, supports the party of the working people, AKEL. It calls on workers to strengthen the political force that acts as a shield of protection for their rights and achievements. It calls on them to strengthen the prospect of a progressive change in the administration of the country to the benefit of the many and the underprivileged.

Brothers and sisters,

Unfortunately, the restrictive measures that have been imposed force us this year to celebrate Worker’s May Day online and not with the organisation of mass parades in the streets of Cyprus. We will hold a symbolic event where wreaths will be laid at the monument to the unsung heroes of the working class. The General Secretary of PEO will deliver a speech there, followed by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL and the President of DEV-IS who will both address the event. An online cultural program dedicated to the anniversary will follow.

Together with the message of memory and honor to the pioneering workers, we also send out a special message of appreciation and gratitude to the health workers, who for a year now have been relentlessly confronting and fighting the pandemic.

On the 1st of May we raise in our homes the honored red flag of the 1st of May.

We stay strong – We defend – We assert.