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Extent of under paid hotel workers laid bare.


Jacqueline Agathocleous

AROUND one in six hotel workers are unregistered and the vast majority of them are European workers, the House Labour Committee was told yesterday.

Around 16 per cent of employees in the hotel sector are not registered with 62 per cent of them being European workers.

The figures, released in the wake of recent protests by local employees made redundant and replaced by what they say is cheap European labour, were announced during discussions on an amendment to the Hotel Employees' Law.

Committee Chairman, AKEL's Andreas Fakontis, said the main concern was ensuring all workers were protected, whether they were Cypriot or foreign.

This, he added, was why the new amendment was important to help bring the law up to date.

"The aim of the new regulations is to authorise inspectors to carry out checks to combat unregistered labour, as well as upkeep the laws and working conditions of hotel employees," said Fakontis. "It is necessary to protect the workers, whether they are Cypriot or not."

He said that during the discussion, employers objected some parts of the amendment - such as imposing a prison penalty for violation of certain regulations - while employees' unions called for its immediate implementation, to stop workers from being exploited.

"After hearing the two sides, the committee decided to give 15 days for further consultations," said Fakontis.

Meanwhile, the hotel employees' branches of trade unions SEK and PEO have warned they will take drastic action if the matter isn't resolved soon. The unions said they would call for a general strike during the busy summer season, if the state doesn't punish those hoteliers caught blatantly violating contractual agreements.

The unions say that apart from the injustices against local employees, who are fired in favour of cheaper labour, European workers are also being exploited by being made to work for next nothing.

"Many European workers receive hunger salaries, while there are cases where their living conditions are desperate," said SEK's Pericles Pericleous. "Without a doubt, there is a section of employers who are violating the collective agreements and shrinking their employees' rights and benefits."

The head of hoteliers' association PASYXE, Charis Loizides, called on those claiming to have been unjustly fired to report them to the appropriate authorities.

"If there are violations of collective agreements, these should be reported to PASYXE and the Labour Ministry, to avoid these general accusations," said Loizides.

"If these demands are being done on the sly, as part of the unions' effort to exploit the situation now that we are having a good season, then the motives are not so innocent," said Loizides. "They want to create tensions and demand things that aren't included in the collective agreements, which will not be tolerated."

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jun 28, 2011
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