About Cyprus

Labour and Social Policy


In 1999 the island%26rsquo;s Economically Active Population was estimated at 314.400 persons. During the same year the Gainfully Employed Population in Cyprus averaged 290.900 persons, as against 287.000 in 1998. Wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels absorb the largest part of the gainfully employed population (78.700 or 27,2%) followed by community, social and personal services (73.400 or 25,8%) and manufacturing (38.300 persons or 13,2%).

Registered unemployment increased to 11.375 persons or 3.6% of the economically active population in 1999, from 10.412 persons or 3,4% in 1998. Of the total number of those registered as unemployed in 1999, 5.795 or 50% were women; persons under the age of 30 numbered 2.665 or 23.4% of unemployment; newcomers into labour amounted to 579 or 5,1% of those registered as unemployed; 2.109 persons or 18,5% of the total unemployed were college/university graduates. Of the total number of graduates of higher education for 1999, 71,9% were unemployed up to six months, 19.7% were unemployed for six to twelve months and 8,4% were unemployed for more than twelve months.

The number of vacancies notified at the District Labour Offices in 1999 totalled 12.121 as against 13.232 in 1998.

According to the latest available data kept by the Department of Social Insurance, the number of foreign workers legally working in Cyprus on 15.10.200 was estimated to be 27.700 or 9,3% of the gainfully employed population.

Employment of Cypriots abroad on a temporary basis - a measure taken to combat the massive unemployment problem created as a result of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus - remains low, about 2.825 persons in 1997 and 2.800 persons in 1996 as against 8.700 persons in 1987. The main host countries of Cypriot workers were Greece and the Arab countries.

Industrial Relations
Government policy in the field of industrial relations aims to the sound industrial relations and the maintenance of industrial peace. Among the targets of the government in this field are the following:
%26bull; the safeguarding of the freedom of association;
%26bull; the encouragement of the growth of strong worker and employer organisations, and the fostering of tripartite cooperation;
%26bull; the promotion of free collective bargaining as the main method for determining terms and conditions of employment;
%26bull; the provision of assistance for the prevention and settlement of labour disputes, within the interests of the public as a whole, and
%26bull; the protection of vulnerable groups of workers (mainly non unionised), by determining their basic conditions of employment through legislation.

It is widely recognised that since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, industrial relations in Cyprus have been quite satisfactory, due to the high sense of responsibility shown by both trade unions and employer associations in facing labour problems. This cooperation and understanding became particularly evident during the period following the Turkish invasion in 1974. Cyprus is considered to be a country of peaceful labour relations.

The percentage of workdays lost because of strikes is very low compared to international figures.

The Industrial Relations Service of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance provides mediation assistance to trade unions and employer associations for the prevention and settlement of labour disputes, in accordance with the law and the Industrial Relations Code.

The more usual form of mediation provided by the Service, however, is intervention in the dispute after direct negotiations have reached a deadlock and the two sides have formally asked for mediation. The Service mediates in about 350 such cases annually, about 90% of which are resolved without a strike.

Although mediation has become practically the only way of providing aid for the resolution of disputes, the two sides may still resort to arbitration, directly or after mediation. According to the Industrial Relations Code, arbitration as a last resort is mandatory in the case of disputes over rights. If a dispute is submitted to arbitration the Industrial Relations Service sees that a mutually accepted arbitrator is appointed and assists him or her by providing facilities and information.

During the last few years, due to the effort of Cyprus to harmonise its laws with those of the European Union, and in view of the increasing restructuring of enterprises, labour relations have been more closely monitored by the government and the social partners. Thus, additional legislation has been introduced, in order to improve the regulation of individual and collective labour relations, and in order to protect workers more effectively.

Industrial Pollution Control
Industrial Pollution Control is realised, inter alia, through the enforcement of the Laws on the Control of Pollution of the Atmosphere and the Control of Pollution of the Waters which have been fully operable since 1993. Within this context, the Action Plan for the Environment, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in 1990, continued to be implemented through the enforcement of the above legislation. Through the licensing procedure established by the said Laws, several applications from various factories discharging liquid and or gaseous effluents were examined and the conditions for the discharge were set in the permits which were issued. Specifically, discharge permits were granted to most of the factories that opted to discharge their effluents to the recently constructed Vathia Gonia Central Treatment Station for industrial and municipal waste waters. For this as well as for inspection purposes, the environmental pollution inspectors carried out a number of measurements of industrial effluents.

It is to be noted that the Ministerial Committee for the Industrial Pollution Control is regularly informed on the progress towards the implementation of the Action Plan and the enforcement of legislation.

A project funded by the LIFE Third Countries Program of the European Union on Industrial Pollution Control is in progress. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance is carrying out this project on behalf of the government of Cyprus and in close cooperation with the National Technical University of Athens. The main aims of the project are:

%26bull; establishment of integrated systems for chemical substances control and for industrial emissions and emissions of volatile organic compounds control;
%26bull; development of tools related to best available techniques for the implementation of EU Directive for Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC);
%26bull; drafting of the necessary legislation in the field of industrial pollution control so as to be in line with the European acquis, and
%26bull; formulation of a plan for continuous integrated monitoring.

Ambient air quality measurements for the monitoring and control of air pollution in Nicosia are carried out by three fully equipped mobile units. Another mobile unit for measuring background levels for the purpose of monitoring the transboundary air pollution is in operation since October 1996. The latter measurements are carried out within the framework of the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP).

From the continuous measurements of the most significant ambient air pollutants at different places in Nicosia, it was concluded that the pollution in these areas are within the quality objectives of Cyprus and below the limits set in the EC Directives and other international standards.

Social Policy
The importance of an effective social services system has been especially apparent in Cyprus since the Turkish invasion and military occupation of 1974. The uprooting of a third of the population created many social problems and increased dependence of vulnerable groups on the state. Initially Government spending focused on meeting the basic survival requirements of refugees and others through cash grants and aid in kind. Since then it has gradually moved towards providing long-term housing services, free secondary education, health services, and a wage-related social insurance scheme, scholarships and loans for needy students to study abroad, infrastructural buildings such as new schools, hospitals and various welfare institutions such as old peoples%26rsquo; homes, geriatric centres, community welfare centres, children%26rsquo;s and youth homes, hostels and day-care centres.

The basic objectives of government social policy are:
(1) To secure a minimum acceptable standard of living for all citizens, especially for those who do not participate, or participate to a limited extent, in the productive process.
(2) The attainment of a more equitable distribution of the national income and the tax burden, both between different income groups as well as regions. Special emphasis is attached to improving the income position of the refugees.
(3) To implement and improve existing social programmes while preparing the introduction of new institutions, programmes and schemes aiming at the steady improvement of the social services so as to respond effectively to the expectations of those in real need.

Entry Date 24/1/2002