25 September 2023

CYPRUS: Government appeals PS pay ruling

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Cyprus’s Supreme Court has opened its hearing on an appeal by the Government against a lower court ruling that Public Service pay cuts, imposed six years ago, are unconstitutional.

The Government has also asked for the appeal to be expedited and to be heard by the full bench of 13 judges.

Currently, they are being examined by a three-bench court.

In March, the Administrative Court ruled that a freeze on incremental pay rises, a 3 per cent contribution to pensions and a reduction in PS employees’ pay was in violation of Article 23 of the Constitution regarding the protection of the right to property.

The decision applied to PS staff as well as persons employed in the broader public sector, such as semi-governmental organisations.

Before the Supreme Court, lawyers representing PS employees argued that a circular issued by the Ministry of Finance instructing all PS bodies to withhold payment of compensation pending the appeals was unlawful.

Various estimates have been cited on how much the decisions might cost the Government should the Administrative Court’s ruling be upheld.

The most conservative scenario sees a few million euros as immediate backpay, compensating only those PS employees who sued, plus €200 million (A$324 million) annually to restore full salaries to all PS staff.

The austerity measures were imposed in 2013 when the country was on the brink of economic collapse.

Meanwhile, a 48-hour strike by contract workers in the public sector has ended.

Workers were protesting over not getting the same treatment as their colleagues who held permanent posts.

More than 5,000 employees working in the Public Service were affected, together with about 11,000 in public companies.

Nicosia, 20 May 2019

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