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Construction workers threaten strike action

As waves of industrial unrest sweep the Island, construction sector workers in Cyprus are planning the first in a series of 24 hour token strikes on St. Valentine’s Day over the use of cheap foreign labour.

CONSTRUCTION and ready mix concrete workers are set to hold a 24-hour token strike on February 14th as a first step in their response to “attacks on wages and benefits from a large number of employers”.

The unions accuse the Cyprus Federation of the Building Contractors Associations (OSEOK) of firing long-serving unionised builders and replacing them with cheap, non-unionised foreign labour.

Meanwhile, figures released by Eurostat earlier today showed that unemployment levels in Cyprus reached an unprecedented 9.3% at the end of last year and grew at a faster rate than all other countries in the EU27, with the exception of Greece.

The highest unemployment rate is among those under 25, where it has reached 25.8%; even highly educated young people cannot find employment.

Readers' comments

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  • demetri says:

    Well Cyprus ranks 8th in the world in terms of migrant population.

  • Alex says:

    We may safely conclude therefore that the greatest obstacle to any progress is our politicians. OUR I mean European. I cannot understand how anyone in sound mind can promote Turkey’s accession to EU. I equally cannot understand why President Chrisftofias is trying to find a solution to Cyprus problem. It is as realistic as a crossbreed between dog and cat. Examples are numerous, result the same – rather than concentrate on the burning issues of economic growth, employment, immigration, crime etc. politicians engage in projects that have nothing to do with the everyday problems of their compatriots.

    However, we also share the blame. After all, we vote for these guys (or ignore voting).

    I am mostly sorry for the Philippine girls in Cyprus. They seem to be the only group of people here who do not complain about austerity measures. Everyone else does. Including intolerably oppressed civil servants.

  • Richard says:

    @Alex – your comments about the failure of Government to think ahead long-term is spot on. The fault is not with ordinary working people.

    Of course if Europe is to work long term as a single ‘open door’ continent it’s got some serious re-engineering work to do. At the moment – standards of conduct and regulatory enforcement is mis-aligned just about everywhere in the EU27.

    As for David Cameron – he is not at the helm of an empire any more (he should get out of Whitehall and rural Oxfordshire once in a while and then he’d perhaps realise this). He has no cash, clout or credibility anywhere in the world to offer his paternalistic support to anything frankly. His job – breakfast, lunch and dinner – 7 days a week – is lowering our deficit, increasing our ability to trade abroad (and mainly outside the EU) & sorting out our unemployment and infrastructure issues.

    As his much more effective predecessor commented quite correctly: “you cannot be a good Samaritan until you have money to be one”.

    As for Cyprus – I feel sorry for young people – 30% unemployment is a hopeless failure of those governing their interests. They should feel shame but I doubt they will.

    I run instruction in commercial education now (I partly chose to develop this service as a result of my own stupidity buying property in Cyprus).

    Seems there may be a bright future for that now it’s obvious the old order is finally illuminated for what it is.

  • Alex says:

    I thought that was precisely the thing EU was created for – free movement of labour and capital, wasn’t it?

    So of course there will be influx of cheap labour from the new EU members. Both Cyprus and UK should have known that a decade ago. In Cyprus the situation is more complicated since here (unlike UK) no restrictions have been imposed on the workforce from the new EU countries. And since I very much doubt that the local brick-laying technique is superior to that of, say, Romania, it is not surprising that Cypriots are squeezed out of construction sector jobs.

    By the way, I heard David Cameron enthusiastically supporting Turkey’s bid to become part of EU. I assume he has taken into consideration current conditions of UK labour market?

    In short, we should blame our governments for the self-destructive immigration policy, not foreign workers who simply seek better life abroad.

  • Martyn says:

    What is happening in Cyprus is very similar to elsewhere, Surprise Surprise, just that most, including Government, were, for far too long, in denial. If there is no minimum wage there is every opportunity for Builders and Construction companies to reduce labour costs by legitimately employing those from poorer EC countries, some doubtless also employing cheap labour from outside the EC. Seems to me going On Strike could prove futile, could even accelerate the costs-lowering employer strategies – but lets see what happens.

  • Mike says:


    As much as I understand your point of view regarding the title deed issue please remember that the home building sector of the construction industry in Cyprus as anywhere else is but a very small, sometimes insignificant, part of any nations construction industry. Offices, Warehouses, roads, Bridges, Airports, Ports, terminals, distribution hubs, Motorways, Churches etc. all come under the umbrella of construction and is where most skilled workers and engineers are employed. I think it is there where cheap foreign labour is being utilised and sometimes not skilled.

    It could be argued however that it is but a benefit (sic) of EU membership assuming the workers in question are from EU states and not Asia. Just a point that I feel needs to be made and no, I have no connection to the Construction industry.

  • UBoat says:

    Sounds like they have felt the hand of the Eastern European invasion as well now.

    I work in construction in UK, And have seen our industry DECIMATED by the Eastern Europeans they are every where and out number British workers by at least 3 – 1 on our sites, BUT as usual our government have done NOTHING to protect us against the greed of the construction companies, just allowed the wages to progressively get squeezed and the Eastern Europeans to under cut all in areas.

    So on this one only I can sympathies with the workers here in Cyprus. At least they have the bottle to stand up and shout.

    I agree why not mention the title deed issue as well? it may help after all we need to try anything on that one as nothing else seems to be working.

    P.S. It’s not just construction is it? How many young Cypriots do you see working in the bars and restaurants these days? this is the same in UK All coffee shops etc and service and warehouse industries have been affected in UK as well. Watch out! It’s an invasion.

    Have a nice Day!

  • Jim says:

    Do the construction workers not realise that their industry is in decline & if they still have a job, then they are one of the lucky few.

    They should be having words with the government about the title deeds issue. That would be more productive in trying to revive the industry.

    With the construction sector in such dire straits, the employers may just say to the strikers, yes take the day off, take the week off, or the month off. In fact don’t bother coming back at all.

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