InsiderBusinessThousands of workers across Cyprus stage work stoppage over CoLA (PHOTOS+VIDEOS)

Thousands of workers across Cyprus stage work stoppage over CoLA (PHOTOS+VIDEOS)

Thousands of workers across Cyprus staged a work stoppage on Thursday over a disagreement between the government, employers and trade unions regarding the full restoration of the cost-of-living allowance (CoLA).

The protests gathered employees from all sectors in one of the largest workers’ demonstrations in Cyprus since 1950.

The three-hour work stoppage was organised with the cooperation of trade unions representing more than 70,000 workers and was attended by employees from all sectors of the economy such as public servants, teachers, police, journalists, judges, and hospital staff, among others.

In Nicosia, the public started gathering around 12 pm outside the Ministry of Finance. In Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos the protest took place held outside the District Administration offices, while in Paralimni, workers demonstrated outside the Welfare Office.

Outside the Finance Ministry in Nicosia, thousands of people joined by union representatives from Peo, Sek, Pasydy, Deok, Esk, Oelmek, Poed, Oltek, SAK, Pasyki, and others, demanded the restoration of CoLA, shouting “hands off CoLA” and “CoLA for all workers.”



“They did not take us seriously. Messages coming from all cities show the extent of the strength of the workers. We do not negotiate workers’ rights. Today the credibility and dignity of workers are being judged. The fight is not just for CoLA, but for workers’ rights,” Sek General Secretary Andreas Matsas said in his speech.

“Today, we, the workers, are defending our history, across Cyprus. We are defending the struggle of those colleagues that gave us CoLA in 1944,” Peo General Secretary Sotiroulla Charalambous said.

She added that the fight for CoLA is a fight for collective agreements and stressed that employers are trying to cancel collective agreements and establish individual contracts as the norm in workplaces.

On his part, the head of the journalists’ union (Esk) George Frangos said that the reintroduction of CoLA will create the conditions for a renewal of collective agreements.

“I represent the journalists of our country, who write every day about workers’ rights, but they cannot themselves speak about their own demands,” Frangos said adding that the work stoppage paves the way for a drastic rise in trade union consciousness, and rallying all employees.”

After the speeches, the workers marched to the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, where representatives of the trade unions handed a memorandum with their demands to Minister Kyriacos Koushos.

The work stoppage 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, came to a standstill.

Following the 2013 financial crisis, trade unions and employers in Cyprus 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 is not satisfactory.

Trade unions say that amid soaring inflation the full restoration of CoLA is necessary to protect the employees’ purchasing power.

Koushos has said that the issue will be tackled by the new government to be sworn in following the presidential elections and has appealed to trade unions to protect labour peace.

The employers’ side has said that this period is not appropriate for dialogue due to the presidential elections and requested the negotiations to continue over a “new holistic, modern and effective system.”

According to Investopedia, CoLA is an increase made to wages to counteract the effects of rising prices in the economy, caused by inflation.

CoLA is typically equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for a specific period. The Consumer Price Index represents the average prices of a basket of goods and is used to measure inflation.




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