In Slovakia business, govt, opposition differ on ways of solving labor shortages

Slovak employers, government and opposition representatives overall differ on their attitude and ways of solving the shortage of qualified labor force. According to Association of Employer Unions AZZZ vice-president Rastislav Machunka, this problem could become one of the greatest obstacles to future arrival of foreign investors to the country. He noted that some companies must decline orders, because they lack the staff needed to meet them, while others are faced with increasing labor costs as they are pressed to raise wages, sometimes inconsistently, to lure/retail workers. Machunka believes that one of the solutions is for domestic firms to hire workers from abroad, both from EU member states and third countries. Another possible direction for future development is robotization and automation of the processes, Machunka noted.

At the same time, according to labor ministry state secretary Branislav Ondrus from ruling Smer, employment of foreigners in Slovakia must be made more expensive, so that they are no longer cheaper to employers when compared with local workers, thus avoiding social dumping feared by the trade unions. He added that the government is already drafting respective measures. The bill requires employers not only to pay wages to foreigners, but also to provide such workers with housing.

A third view for the solution of the problem was voiced by opposition lawmaker Milan Krajniak from We Are Family. He accused the government of neglecting the issue of foreign workers in Slovakia and described the growth of their number as enormous. Krajniak said that the complaints about the lack qualified labor force were a lie, because there are enough qualified workers of Slovakia, but the salary conditions have forced them to seek work abroad. The opposition MP quoted statistics, suggesting that wage growth in Slovakia in the past year has been the lowest when compared to neighboring countries. He claims that the problem is further exacerbated by the fact that Slovak salaries were below labor productivity at the start. Krajniak believes that if companies offer adequate salaries, many of these workers would come back.

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