Hoteliers urged the House Commerce Committee to be able to hire students from third countries to ease an acute staff shortage, only to be told by Akel that they would have no problem finding staff if they paid a decent wage.
The issue was brought to the House as hoteliers press for action before the new tourism season gets underway.
Committee chairman Andreas Kyprianou said the committee had heard the ‘cry of concern’ of hoteliers and restaurant owners who cannot find staff. He said a solution must be found short term for 2019, and longer term.
He said that figures submitted by the deputy ministry for tourism showed that Cyprus had one of the highest rates of tourists per employee. The deputy ministry has proposed a campaign to attract EU personnel, but high rents appear to be an obstacle, the Disy MP added.
Akel MP Costas Costa said that hoteliers have enjoyed higher profits and if they needed staff they should give better pay to jobless Cypriots. Statistical Service figures show that average pay in hotels and restaurants was lower than other sectors of the economy, he added.
The reason most Cypriot employees do not stay in their jobs at hotels is because of poor work conditions and the absence of incentives, he said.
Diko MP Angelos Votsis said the problem did not appear to be heading for a solution as the government was not ready to give immediate solutions. He said that although registered unemployed were interested in working in hotels, few of them stay on the job.
According to Votsis, the hotel association is proposing students from third countries work in the kitchens, but the Labour Ministry counters that priority should go to the unemployed and that more should be done to attract EU citizens.
Votsis said that allowing third country students would at least partially help resolve the problem.
Edek MP Elias Myrianthous said allowing third country students and asylum seekers to work in the tourist sector would require special legislation. He urged speedy action to resolve the labour shortage but added that hoteliers should also review the salaries they offer.