Since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, one of the basic principles of the voluntary industrial relations system is the importance and relevance of tripartite cooperation through the use of social dialogue. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance has a large number of tripartite social dialogue bodies functioning under its auspices, dealing with a variety of subjects.
Tripartite Social Dialogue Bodies have real responsibilities and authorities even though their role is advisory. It should be noted that any issue or subject pertaining to work, labour law, employment policy, and any other programmes dealing with the labour market are discussed by the tripartite social dialogue bodies. Furthermore, in the case of examining special issues, then these are dealt with in Tripartite Technical Committees of the interested social dialogue body.
For example, during the process of preparing for the adoption of any new labour legislation, the Labour Advisory Board, appoints a tripartite technical committee, with terms of reference to examine in detail the proposed draft legislation.
The tripartite technical committees are made up of representatives of the trade unions (SEK, PEO, DEOK), and the employers organisations (OEB, KEBE), and are presided by an Officer, or the Director of the Department of Labour Relations.
The usual procedure followed is the discussion of the draft legislations in detail, with each participating organisation expressing and submitting its views and opinions on possible changes/amendments. This procedure is a democratic form of discussing issues that at the end of the day have an effect on the whole population, whether these are employers or employees.
Furthermore, on the basis of conflicting interests that may be expressed by employer and employee organisations, discussions at tripartite technical committees in many cases may take the form of "bargaining", with each side trying to ensure to the best interest for its members. This "bargaining" is considered to be a healthy democratic method of problem solving, since it is the result of dialogue and consultations undertaken by the social partners. This procedure has the effect of preventatively dealing with possible social unrest, disagreements and misunderstandings, thus essentially safeguarding social cohesion.
Apart from the above, it is in many cases that Social Partners have voluntarily reached agreements that have had the result of increasing either terms and conditions of employment, or improving various labour relations practices. Such examples are the signing of the Industrial Relations Code, on the 25th of April 1977, the Agreement between PEO, SEK and OEB on the gradual reduction of working hours, which was signed in 1992, and the signing of the National Plan for Productivity and Health and Safety, signed on the 15th of May 1995, by OEB, CCCI, PEO, SEK, DEOK, POAS and PASYDY, and in 2004, the signing of an Agreement on the Procedure for Labour Disputes in Essential Services.