Labour Ministry to closely monitor unemployment

THE LABOUR Ministry intends to implement a number of measures and actions to support employment and minimise problems in the sectors most affected by the financial crisis.

One of the main focuses of the authorities is to clamp down on illegal employment.

Labour Minister Soteroula Charalambous said yesterday there had been a rise in unemployment in the construction and tourism sectors.

She confirmed the Finance Ministry’s forecast for a 0.5 per cent increase in unemployment in 2009. This was realistic estimate the Minister said.

She also said the Labour Ministry was “flexible and open to suggestions from the social partners in order to be able to tackle the issues of 2009”

Charalambous said that unemployment rose in December 2008 by 3.5 per cent. For the whole year the unemployment rate was lower than 2007, she said.

“For January it is not easy to draw conclusions because traditionally it is a month where an increase in unemployment is always observed,” she added.

Charalambous said that the public employment services would monitor and analyse unemployment developments according to sector and region and brief the Ministry every two weeks in order to make the necessary interventions.

She also said that the public employment services would intensify their efforts with the help of employment consultants and look out for job vacancies for the unemployed.

Charalambous said that in February the monitoring committee would meet to assess the employment strategy practiced up until now and to discuss the policy they will follow in 2009.

On the issue of tackling illegal employment, Charalambous said that she had placed direct and indirect measures before the social partners to deal with this matter.

Charalambous said that the Ministry is continuing the inspections in cooperation with the police. An inspection unit will also be set up in all districts as well as a group to monitor the whole process. A special telephone line for complaints will also be created.

The subject of increasing penalties for illegal employment and issuing special identity card for foreigners stating their employers and their line of work will also be discussed in the cabinet.

The Labour Minister also mentioned that where training was concerned, the Human Resources Development Authority would pick up the pace on programmes that focus on the inactive work force such as young people and women, and will devise a new training plan, focusing on the unemployed that have newly-registered or are EU citizens.