Short-staffed Cyprus greets foreign labor

Short-staffed Cyprus greets foreign labor

The accord forged by the Cypriot Ministry of Labor alongside employer and trade union representatives to tackle workforce shortages, especially prevalent during the summer months, seems poised to confront a long-standing challenge head-on.

The downsizing of hotels and tourism enterprises has taken a toll on the quality of services rendered. Minister Yiannis Panayiotou has joined forces with social partners to fortify the labor market by integrating personnel from third countries.

Panayiotou emphasized to Kathimerini the collective agreement that states the partial opening of Cyprus to the international labor market “must not undercut the domestic market, labor standards and benefits, with foreign workers simply serving as a source of cheap labor.”

According to ministry data, recent issues stem from Cyprus’ economic metrics surpassing its demographic parameters, resulting in shortages of both skilled and unskilled personnel in critical sectors of the economy. As conveyed by the minister to Kathimerini, initial projections suggest that demand for foreign personnel could range from 4,000 to 6,000 in the upcoming period, with the tourism industry absorbing more than half of these new recruits.

The ministry’s protocols appear notably meticulous and rigorous regarding the approval processes for new work permits from third countries. In the latest deliberations with social partners, it was agreed to establish a framework to coordinate the international labor market. To this end the decision was taken to firstly form a committee tasked with overseeing the employment of foreigners in the labor market and, secondly, to delineate the committee’s terms of reference. Additionally, discussions during the meeting revolved around the living conditions of foreign workers. Pertaining to the pivotal issue of accommodation, employers advocated for an increase in the deduction rate from employees’ wages for housing, from 10% to 25%. The ministry acknowledged the necessity to enhance foreign workers’ living standards, underscoring an accord reached on that.

The responsibility for granting work permits lies with the ministry, which, as per Panayiotou, has successfully streamlined and expedited the approval processes for new work permits.  (ekathimerini)

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