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Labour Minister: Revision of strategy for third country nationals' employment

02/02/2023 09:58

Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos said on Wednesday that he will not leave the Ministry unless he has promoted a revision of the strategy for the employment of workers from third countries, stressing that this issue is the responsibility of the Council of Ministers.

While taking stock of the work of his Ministry, he said that there is criticism from trade unions on the issue, noting that sectors such as agriculture and livestock breeding and the tourism industry cannot be left without workers, when there is no interest on behalf of Cypriots.

Referring to the discussions with trade unions on the cost of living allowance (COLA), he said that this is an issue he will leave to his successor noting that he has done whatever he could as mediator but the diametrically opposed views between trade unions and employers' organizations did not allow him to submit a mediation proposal.

Koushos also referred to the establishment of the National Minimum Wage, which he described as "one of the greatest reforms in the country".

He said that with the establishment of the minimum wage at €885 for full-time employment, which increases to €940 after six months of continuous employment, 20% of the employees, corresponding to 80,000 people will benefit and that the salary of approximately 40,000 people will increase up to 30%

Referring to the Guaranteed Minimum Income, the Minister said that in 2021 20,250 families benefited with an expenditure of €207.6 million which corresponds to an average of €10,252 per family compared to state aid in 2013 with an expenditure of €168 million for 23,872 families, that corresponds to an average of €7,037 per family.

The Minister also referred to the steady decrease in unemployment rates, citing data based on which the unemployment rate fell from 16.1% in 2014 to 6.7% in the first nine months of 2022.

He also pointed out that unemployment among young people aged 15 – 24 fell from 38.9% in 2013 to 17.1% in 2021, noting that there will continue to be problems with such a high percentage of new graduates.

"We're doing studies to see how we're going to deal with this problem, to direct our young people to the right professions based on the programming we have as a state in general for the economy and business," he said.

Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister of Labor said that with the wage and job subsidy from March 12, 2022 to December 31, 2022, 43.9% of workers were covered compared to 17.5% of EU average.