Ongoing negotiations over the establishment of a national minimum wage law in Cyprus appear to be turning into a casus belli between employers and employees.
Cyprus does not have a minimum wage law. But it does have a minimum wage requirement for certain occupations set at €870 per month under a Labour Ministry decree issued in 2012.
Employers argue that the consequences of a set minimum wage will be significant and negative.
Head of Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industy (KEVE) Employment Relations Department, Emilios Michael, said that if labour costs rise, part of production will become damaging to businesses. And this could possibly lead to an increase in illegal and undeclared work. Along with a decrease in the country’s competitiveness.
In addition, Michael urgently called for a scientific study identifying potential problematic issues as a result of the implementation of a unified minimum wage.
Head of Cyprus Employers Federation (OEB) Michalis Antoniou went a step further, disagreeing even with the intention of the government to legalise a minimum wage.
“If the government believes that the legal imposition of a minimum wage in conditions of high unemployment is detrimental, then imagine what will happen if unemployment rises even higher as a result of a new crisis? Will the government go to the parliament to reduce it? In Cyprus? This will never happen, so do not make the mistake to legislate on the minimum wage because this mistake will never be corrected,” he said.
However, SEK and PEO trade unions have the opposite view. SEK Secretary-general Andreas Matsas said that a set minimum wage will eliminate workers’ injustice and exploitation. And it will create conditions for an increased overall productivity and a rise in the competitiveness of the country’s businesses.
PEO Secretary-General Pambis Kiritsis believes that now more than ever the establishment of a minimum wage is necessary. Because the transfer of wealth to a handful of people along with the inability or refusal of the State to intervene to restore social justice undermines social cohesion and leads to social conflict and disorder.