The Industrial Relations system in Cyprus is based on the democratic principles of free speech and tripartite cooperation. The term "tripartite cooperation" essentially refers to the constructive cooperation between the social partners, i.e., the employers' and employees' organisations and the government.
The liberal and voluntary nature of the industrial relations system in Cyprus, means that to a large extent terms and conditions of employment are determined freely, through collective bargaining between the two sides (employers and employees), with a view to the signing of collective agreements.
It should be noted that for the protection of vulnerable groups of employees, who are mainly characterised by their weak bargaining power, an Order is issued annually, providing for a minimum wage for certain occupations. For further information on the minimum wage press here.
Even though for many years the determination of terms and conditions of employment was based to a large extent on the provisions of collective agreements, either at the sectoral, or the enterprise level, the harmonization of Cyprus legislation with the E.U acquis led to the legal enforcement a vast array of provisions and terms and conditions of employment.
This does not in any way affect the importance and significance of collective agreements, but has assisted in providing for minimum terms and conditions of employment for non-unionized employees, but also for employees in enterprises that do not apply the provisions of collective agreements.
As already explained, collective agreements are not legally enforceable documents and as such disputes arising from their violation cannot be settled in the Labour Disputes Court.
Labour disputes arising from the violation of collective agreements are dealt with according to the provisions laid down in the Industrial Relations Code. It should be noted though, that during the examination of cases before the Labour Disputes Court, the provisions of collective agreements in the employers company, plus any other existing practices concerning terms and conditions of employment, are taken into consideration by the Court.
As stated further up, the settlement of labour disputes is governed by the provisions of the Industrial Relations Code, a gentlemens agreement that till today remains at the centre of the voluntary industrial relations system. The social partners in Cyprus are very much responsible for the systems success, since its success relies on the high level of responsibility and respect shown by both employers' and employees' organisations for adhering to the provisions of the Code.
Strict adherance (with very few exceptions) to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Code, has assisted in the maintenance of industrial peace. Furthermore, the existence of various bodies of social dialogue, through which social partners express their views, has assisted in the development of a system that has tripartite cooperation deeply embedded within its functions. This tripartite cooperation has been central to the promotion of public interest and the healthy development of the island's economy. For more information on Social Dialogue in Cyprus press here.