The Executive Council of PEO in its session which convened on Monday 21st December 2020, made an assessment of the situation regarding labour and socio-economic issues and set out the priorities and objectives of PEO for 2021.

Developments in the current year with regards socio-economic issues were determined by the coronavirus pandemic which resulted in a significant reduction in economic activity and the suspension of work for hundreds of thousands of workers.

 The Cyprus and the global economy too have entered a period of deep recession characterised primarily by uncertainty.

The pandemic revealed the limitations and deadlocks that characterize Cyprus’ economic model.

The negative effects of the neoliberal policies pursued in recent years were also highlighted. Continued cuts in spending on health and the dismantling of the welfare state have hampered the possibilities for the effective management of the pandemic.

In the environment as it is evolving today, ensuring and protecting the health of workers, providing economic support for those affected by the measures, protecting jobs, preventing a new attack on wages and benefits are at the forefront of our priorities.

As for the collective agreements that will be renewed in 2021, it is obvious that the general economic environment is uncertain. There are areas of economic activity that have been particularly affected by the pandemic, but there are also areas that have not been affected, on the contrary, they are recording positive results.

Taking into account the economic given situation and the specifics of each industry or company, the goal of improving employment conditions and ensuring equal treatment must be promoted. Particular attention should be paid to the completion of the procedures for the renewal of collective agreements which have been pending for years.

In the difficult conditions that have been created, the Ministry of Labour must exercise systematic and effective controls.

The Executive Council of PEO considers it imperative to continue the schemes providing support, as well as to update and enrich them depending on the measures being taken to confront the pandemic.

Furthermore, the government needs to introduce social support measures, especially for those groups of the population that have been out of work for a long time, measures should be taken to end foreclosures and to extend the possibility of suspending the paying of instalments.

The protection of terms of employment and measures to restructure work remain a priority for PEO.

More specifically, the following are imperative:

– The introduction of institutional regulations 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 minimum benefits will be set for those not covered by collective agreements.

Issues relating to Workplace Safety and working people’s health, the implementation by employers of the health protocols and controls to ensure compliance are becoming even more acute due to the pandemic.

An important tool with regards Health and Safety issues is the Safety and Health Committees. The trade unions of PEO are called upon in the period ahead to fight for the creation of safety committees.

On the occasion of the pandemic, the debate about the promotion and expansion of so-called flexible forms of employment, and in particular teleworking and distance employment, has come back even more intensely. PEO points out that any regulations that change the framework of work must be the result of a regulation within the framework of collective agreements and not to lead to the downgrading of terms of employment, ensuring the working people’s right to choose.

The strengthening of the welfare state is also imperative.

Towards this end, PEO asserts:

– Increase in the payment period of the unemployment benefit.

– Restoration of the loss of pensioners’ incomes and improvement of low pensions.

– Strengthening and modernizing the public health sector.

– Social housing schemes and programs for the provision of economic subsidy for low-wage families to cover rental costs.

The Executive Council reaffirms PEO’s commitment to the struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country and people. The situation that has evolved as a result of the prolonged and barren stagnation, especially after the assumption by Tatar of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community and the escalation of Turkey’s aggression have created a particularly difficult and dangerous situation on the Cyprus problem.

The only way to stop the negative developments on the Cyprus problem is the immediate resumption of negotiations from the point where they had remained and on the basis of the Framework of the UN Secretary General.

Together with the Turkish Cypriot trade union affiliated members of the WFTU and despite the difficulties created by the pandemic, we will continue our joint actions and initiatives with the goal of highlighting the common goal of the solution and reunification.

The Executive Council of PEO calls on the working people to strengthen their organization and unity. Organized and strong, we have a voice, we defend our gains and have the potential to prevent a new wave of attacks on working people’s gains.