The day after Cyprus’ economy came to a standstill during a three-hour general strike over the inflation-linked Cost of Living Allowance issue unions and employers on Friday repeated their stands.
The strong message sent by strikers is that after February’s presidential elections the new government to be elected will be presented with costly standstills if the hot issue remains unresolved.
The strike by trade unions representing over 70,000 employees in the wider public and private sectors went on strike from noon till 3pm and staged protests across the island.
Public transport stopped, schools shut down early, hospital emergency wards had skeleton staff and government departments paralysed.
At the same time, around 22 flights and 4,000 passengers were affected at Larnaca and Paphos airports.
A strike was declared after mediation talks between trade unions, employers, and the Labour Ministry broke down, and a deadlock was declared.
The dispute is expected to be resolved by the next administration to be sworn in on March 1.
Trade unions argue that full restoration of the allowance is necessary to protect employee salaries and reject any effort to abolish it.
Employers say the CoLA system is antiquated, and after two years of a pandemic and a subsequent cost of living crisis, they are in no position to meet such pay demands.
Following the 2013 financial crisis, 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 till the end of 2022.