The force and shield of workers
Working people and their rights are the first priority in AKEL’s activity both inside and outside Parliament. AKEL, with a history spanning almost a century, is identified with the struggles of the worker’s movement of Cyprus, with all the small and big achievements of the working people that have improved their working conditions and their very lives.
Working people should not pay for the crisis again
Even before the pandemic, labour relations in Cyprus were in a prolonged process of deregulation, while the share of wages in the country’s GDP had fallen sharply in all previous years. Today, workers continue to bear the brunt of the economic crisis due to the pandemic, with Cyprus recording the second biggest drop in workers’ incomes across the EU. The economic consequences of the pandemic are worsening the environment and conditions for workers, making them vulnerable to employer arbitrariness. The most important thing for us is that working people will not once again pay for this crisis too. A line of defence and the protection of workers’ rights is demanded.
Assertions for modern labour rights
There are many issues related to labour rights. We have elaborated proposals for these issues and submitted numerous draft bills in Parliament. At the same time, we have taken initiatives to promote solutions on a number of issues and problems.
At the forefront of our demands for the protection of labour rights we have projected three proposals that respond to the modern pressing needs of our country’s workers, especially in the private sector.
- Protection of collective agreements
We demand the approval of legislation that makes the implementation of agreed collective agreements in each sector mandatory for all employers. We assert the supremacy of collective agreements over personal employment contracts.
- Minimum wage and elementary basic rights for every worker
We propose and promote the legislative introduction of a tripartite consultation and negotiation mechanism through which minimum conditions of wages and basic labor rights (13th month salary, Provident Fund, overtime, holidays) will be formed for those workers who are not covered by collective agreements.
- We demand the stamping out of false self-employment. At the same time, we demand the termination of the purchase of services to cover permanent needs in the public and semi-public sector.
Now – not tomorrow – workers need protection
Our demands are against the philosophy and policy of the DISY government, which not only does not care about what workers are concerned about, but avoids or refuses to promote the specific demands of AKEL and the worker’s movement. It is typical of the government to stubbornly refuse to enter into a dialogue on the issue of securing the minimum wage, referring to the issue when and if unemployment is reduced to 5%. However it is precisely now – and not in the indefinite future – that workers’ protection is demanded as high unemployment puts pressure on wages.
Strengthening the purchasing power of wages
For us, the only socially acceptable and, consequently, realistic strategy for economic growth in the post-pandemic period is to strengthen the purchasing power of wages. This will boost private consumption and domestic demand, which will increase GDP, as well as employment by creating new jobs.