Social partners sign framework agreement on work-related stress

In June 2008, the main social partner organisations signed a framework agreement on work-related stress. The agreement, which effectively adopts the relevant framework agreement signed by the social partners at European level in October 2004, is accompanied by a policy statement referring to actions which seek to successfully implement the new agreement as soon as possible. The social partners have identified numerous potential workplace benefits of the agreement.

On 17 June 2008, the country’s major employer organisations and trade unions signed a framework agreement on work-related stress. The employer organisations which signed the agreement were the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Κυπριακό Εμπορικό και Βιομηχανικό Επιμελητήριο, KEBE) and the Employers and Industrialists’ Federation (Ομοσπονδία Εργοδοτών και Βιομηχάνων, OEB). The trade unions signatory to the agreement were the Democratic Labour Federation of Cyprus (Δημοκρατική Εργατική Ομοσπονδία, DEOK), the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (Παγκύπρια Εργατική Ομοσπονδία, PEO) and the Cyprus Workers’ Confederation (Συνομοσπονδία Εργαζομένων Κύπρου, SEK). The agreement was also signed by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Sotiroula Charalambous.

Content of agreement

The new agreement effectively transposes into national law the Framework agreement on work-related stress (77Kb PDF), which was signed by the social partners at European level on 8 October 2004 (EU0410206F). However, the agreement is accompanied by what the social partners refer to as a ‘policy statement’, relating to actions which aim to ensure the immediate and successful implementation of the new agreement.

Implementation plans

More specifically, it was decided to embark on dialogue – scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2008 – with a view to implementing the agreement. In this context, KEBE, OEB, DEOK, PEO and SEK are all calling on their member organisations to begin dialogue at sectoral or company level, for the purposes of adapting the new agreement to the distinctive features of the working environment. In the view of the five organisations, the process of adapting and specifying the agreement should be completed within a short timespan, the length of which will be agreed by both sides. Ideally, this should take place before the next collective agreement is renewed, either at sectoral or company level.

For their part, the five signatory organisations have committed themselves to monitoring the process of adaptation and specification of the new agreement, and to assisting their members by providing them with technical support and any other help which they may request. At the same time, they are calling on organisations or enterprises which are not among their members to also approve and implement the agreement.

Potential benefits of agreement

According to a joint statement issued by the five social partner organisations, correct implementation of the new agreement will help to:

  • improve the work environment;
  • enhance labour relations;
  • raise the level of cooperation in the workplace;
  • improve productivity;
  • boost the competitiveness of companies;
  • lower healthcare costs;
  • reduce absenteeism;
  • increase workers’ job satisfaction.

Government welcomes agreement

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (Υπουργείου Εργασίας και Κοινωνικών Ασφαλίσεων, MLSI), Minister Charalambous declared that the new framework agreement on work-related stress confirms that the system of labour relations in Cyprus is working properly. At the same time, the mutual recognition of the consequences of work-related stress – for workers as well as companies – will open the way for the development of new policies on this issue.

Eva Soumeli, Cyprus Institute of Labour (INEK/PEO)

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