Low-level civil servants want better pay

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The island’s labour stability is under threat as unions representing civil servants are set to decide whether to escalate their campaign for pay raises for 9,000 low-paid state employees.

Members of the Isotita (Equality) union, comprised of low-wage civil servants, staged a strike on Monday and Tuesday, protesting outside the presidential palace to address perceived salary discrepancies.

Unions PASYDY, PEO and SEK met on Tuesday afternoon to assess the government’s response to their demands.

The unions earlier met with Finance Minister Makis Keravnos on Monday and awaited a response from President Nikos Christodoulides.

Sources from the unions indicate their readiness to escalate actions, potentially including a general strike. They argue that the government reneged on an agreement made in October regarding the rectification of salaries, specifically for those on the combined A2-5-7 pay scale.

Isotita’s head of administrative staff Lina Andreou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the strike was put on hold after the ministry’s director general said that he is “not going to consider the proposal while they are protesting in the streets”.

Closing roads

She added that if nothing happens by Friday, they will proceed next Monday with more dynamic measures by closing main roads leading to Nicosia, specifically the Kalispera junction.

Public servants on this scale were mostly former hourly workers converted to permanent government employees by a government decree in 2020. The Ministry of Finance, however, contends that the agreement made no special reference to former members of the combined A2-5-7 scale.

A source from the Finance Ministry told the Financial Mirror, that while the government understands the demand, negotiations will not take place under the threat of strike action.

The source expressed reservations about the potential additional costs to public funds if adjustments were made for the approximately 1,200 employees who had served in the A1-2-5 scale.

The cost of accelerating salary increases for all 9,000 affected civil servants could range between €26 mln and €29 mln, depending on accepted parameters.

The Finance Ministry source highlighted concerns about the inflation of the state payroll, citing the recent reinstatement of the Cost-of-Living Allowance and the restoration of benefits for civil servants, both contributing to significant state costs.

Low-paid civil servants, as claimed by the unions, currently take home between €1,100 and €1,500 after a decade of continuous service. Private sector net salaries, according to surveys, average slightly below €1,500.