Trade unions to hold a three-hour nation-wide strike following impasse over COLA payment

Trade Unions representing over 70,000 employees in the public and private sector hold on Thursday a nation-wide strike in Cyprus, for three hours, following the impasse in the talks over the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

The three-hour strike, between 12:00 and 15:00 local time, was called on by the trade unions, after the dialogue between trade unions and employers with the mediation of the Minister of Labour, Kyriakos Koushos, failed to reach results. The trade unions also called their members to be “vigilant for further escalation depending on the developments.”

On his part, Koushos has said that the issue will be tackled by the new government to be sworn in following the presidential elections to be held on February 5 and 12 (second round) and has appealed to the responsibility of the trade unions to protect labour peace.

Trade unions say that amid soaring inflation the full payment of COLA is necessary to protect the employee’s purchasing power and reject any effort to abolish its philosophy. On their part, employers say that the current election period is not appropriate for a substantive dialogue and requested the dialogue to continue over a “new holistic, modern and effective system.”

Following the 2013 financial crisis in Cyprus, trade unions and employers signed a transitional agreement over the payment of COLA at 50% of the Consumer Price Index accounted for once a year instead of once every six months. The agreement was renewed until the end of 2022. The agreement stipulated that if no new agreement is reached the previous agreement would continue to apply, something which trade unions say it is not satisfactory.

The trade unions which called for the strike represent more than 70,000 employees in the public and private sectors, education, workers in universities.

In the capital, Nicosia, employees will gather at 13:00 local time in front of the Ministry of Finance and then march to the Ministry of Labour, while gatherings will be held in all other districts.

Source: Cyprus News Agency