articles | 07 May 2015

Employers proud of 2014 economic track record

The Employers' Association (OEV) helped stabilise the Cyprus economy in2014 by lowering labour costs, curbing unemployment, and supporting the government’s guaranteed minimum income (GMI) scheme, the body said in a statement recently.

The association’s annual general meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, which will be addressed by President Nicos Anastasiades, will highlight some of these important themes, the statement said.

“In 2014 the extension of the financial crisis and the negative economic climate defined developments on matters of labour relations and social policy,” the association said.

Recalling that last year was mainly marked by the repercussions of the March 2013 Eurogroup decisions, which prompted the need to stabilise and restore the credibility of the Cypriot banking system, shrunk liquidity for Cypriot businesses, and caused a spike in unemployment, OEV said it focused on the peaceful renewal of collective labour agreements that held labour costs in check, as well as addressing unemployment, consolidating public spending, and the privatisation of semi-state organisations.

“The association strongly supported the liberalisation of shops’ opening hours in order to stimulate the retail industry, assigning construction projects to the private sector, offering incentives for the development of renewable energy sources, and attracting foreign investment,” it said.

One of its major priorities, OEV added, was the faithful implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Cyprus and its international lenders (European Union and International Monetary Fund).

But despite some early signs of economic recovery, including the upgrading of Cyprus’ credit ratings, negotiations for collective agreements were conducted amidststrong challenges and uncertainty with regard to the viability of many businesses.

“Trade unions generally showed a spirit of co-operation in reducing labour costs with a view to keeping redundancies to a minimum,” OEV acknowledged.

“In many cases collective agreements have not been renewed and remain under negotiation, without disturbing labour peace, with the exception of the construction industry, where selective strikes took place.”

Additionally, the association said, it instructed distressed businesses to communicate with their staff or their unions so that appropriate and necessary solutions to rescue the businesses can be arrived at.

OEV said it also carried out wide-ranging programmes on several other labour issues.

These included safeguarding labour statutes, as well as the practice of tripartite co-operation (between the government, employers and employees), organising seminars on the compliance with EU workplace-related health and safety regulations, and developing a gender equality certification model for businesses.

As the representative of employers on the international level, OEV exhibited active participation in the ranks of the International Labour Organisation, as well as various EU institutional bodies.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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