Finance minister defends public pay rises
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades

Finance minister Harris Georgiades on Monday defended the government’s decision to gradually restore civil servants’ salaries to 2011 levels – when the first cuts were imposed – insisting that the public payroll would not spin out of control again.

Speaking to the public broadcaster CyBC, Georgiades was on a damage-control mission after employers’ organisations in the private sector, as well as several callers, expressed frustration at a preliminary deal struck last week between the government and trade union federations Peo and Sek.

The agreement provides for gradually rolling back the cuts to wages and pensions introduced in the broader public sector since the summer of 2011.

Georgiades said the government had sought to find the sweet spot between two ‘extreme’ positions.

On the one hand, the civil servants blanket union Pasydy had been calling for the immediate, one-time restoration of pay cuts. On the other, employers’ organisations – sensing pressure from workers in the private sector – are opposed to any public service wage rises whatsoever.

The finance minister argued that the deal with trade unions provides for ‘moderate’ pay increases. These have been vetted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he…