'Dirty money' claims were just an excuse for bail-in

EMPLOYERS and trade unio nists yesterday exchanged views on a proposal by the former for a two-year freeze on wages and cost of living allowance (CoLA) in the private sector, agreeing to meet again later this week to continue the dialogue.

The sides declined to go into specifics following a meeting held at the headquarters of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV). A follow-up meeting has been set for Thursday afternoon.

OEV has asked unio ns PEO and SEK to agree to concessions primarily in so-called "problematic" sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing (carpenters and metal workers), car importers, private health care and retail commerce.

The federation says that up to 40 per cent of its members are reporting difficulties in sustaining profitability in the face of the continuing financial squeeze. Unless cost cuts are agreed, employers will be forced to axe jobs, OEV has warned.

There are currently some 32,000 people unemployed.

In practice, there has been a wage freeze in the private sector for the past three years, even in sectors that are covered by collective agreements. The more likely target for employers therefore is CoLA, which is linked to inflation and must by law be paid to workers.

Speaking to reporters, OEV chairman Filios Zachariades said their proposal does not involve copying the austerity measures that have been introduced in the broader public sector, following an agreement back in September that collective agreements in the private sector would not go the same way.

"Since September, however, we are seeing the turnover of more and more businesses shrinking, and they are having trouble operating with their current staff."

Pambis Kiritsis, head of the left-leaning PEO unio n, said the purpose of yesterday's meeting was to gauge the employers' intentions and to better understand their position.

He declined to comment on whether there was scope for agreement, saying only: "In the current circumstances, nobody wants confrontation. On the other hand, each side is standing up for its positions and for the interests of the people they represent."

Kiritsis said the sides had agreed to keep their deliberations confidential.

"We shall respect this process. The discussions are not finished yet. They shall continue very soon," he said.

Likewise SEK boss Nicos Moiseos said the unio n would debate the employers' proposals internally, discuss them with PEO and come up with a response.


By Elias Hazou Published on January 17, 2012

Source: Cyprus Mail

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