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National minimum wage above €924

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Cyprus will introduce a national minimum wage next year, as social partners are set to agree on the monthly income for workers that could be closer to €1,000 a month.

According to the news site Stockwatch, the minimum wage will be above the monthly salary of €924, set for some occupations, but employers are still concerned over possible risks if it is set much higher.

A Labour Advisory Body tasked with getting down the nitty-gritty of the thorny issue of introducing a minimum wage, made up by the social partners and representatives of the Labour Ministry, has been working overtime.

On the other hand, unions feel that the minimum salary should be set well above €924, evoking President Nicos Anastasiades pre-election commitment to introduce a minimum wage.

The Labour Ministry appears determined to stick to Anastasiades’ commitment, introducing a minimum wage despite concerns from both employers and unions, at the beginning of 2022.

“The setting of a minimum wage that covers all professions is part of the political manifesto of President Anastasiades, and it will be implemented”, said Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou in recent comments.

Employers note that there are still aspects that have not been touched upon.

The Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB) insists that some risks must be considered.

“The country’s economy is still fighting off the consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” argued Michalis Antoniou, OEB’s Director-General.

“Not all professions should be included in the minimum wage deal.

“We need to find the review mechanisms and be confident we will maintain the flexibility of our economy.

“That is if we want the economy to stand on its own two feet, following the banking and fiscal crisis of 2013 and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Andreas Matsas, the head of ruling DISY’s affiliated union federation SEK, said that the employers’ position was respected, noting there is no difference in opinions regarding having a minimum wage.

“Cyprus cannot be an exception and ignore the recommendations of the EU Commission and the International Labour Office for the establishment of a decent national minimum wage by all Member States,” said Matsas.

Asked to comment on the national minimum wage being locked in at €924, SEK’s Secretary-General said:

“The minimum wage should be over €924 since, as this is the current minimum wage for several occupations as determined by a Labour Ministry decree.”

He explained the minimum wage set for nine occupations is €870 and rises to €924 after six months of continuous employment.

Monthly earnings

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has recently called on EU member states to set a minimum wage equal to 60% of the average wage.

According to data announced on Wednesday by the Statistical Service, the average gross monthly earnings of employees in the third quarter of 2021 are estimated at €1,934 compared to €1,909 in Q3 2020, an increase of 1.3%.

At the same time, the average gross monthly earnings during Q3 2021, seasonally adjusted, are estimated at €2,024 and compared to Q2 2021, an increase of 0.5%.

Based on the above, the gross minimum wage in Cyprus should range between €1,160 (60% of gross adjusted average earnings) to €1,214 (60% of average gross earnings).