Slovak PM, trade unions support hiking public sector salaries

PM Peter Pellegrini (leftist senior ruling Smer deputy chairperson) said after meeting representatives of the trade union confederation KOZ on Monday that one of the government’s priorities is to provide for a relatively more significant salary increase in the public sector. The PM has confirmed that it is in the government’s interest to keep the minimum wage rising, as it has done in recent years, adding that the government will create a clear pressure that the minimum wage significantly exceeds EUR500 per month in 2019 after being hiked by 10.3% to EUR480 as of this January. Pellegrini emphasized that it was very important to create an income difference between those who work and those who do not want to work in order to activate as many as possible who currently rely on benefits. According to the PM, a minimum wage of more than EUR500 is the minimum that should be earned in the country, and anyone who opposes such a hike is against the people who work honestly. Note however that employers reject strong increase in the minimum wage as it creates additional upward wage pressures amid tight labor market and scarce qualified labor. They have long argued that the minimum wage increase should be set according to a clear formula that reflects the economic development instead of being dependent on political bargaining, but to no avail.

KOZ leader Jozef Kollar emphasised that the social dialogue as set by the previous government of Robert Fico (Smer chairperson) will continue under the new-old government of Pellegrini. With regard to the planned salary hikes for public servants, Kollar said that time has come for an agreement on a fairer distribution of income from GDP. A topic where the discussions will continue is the retirement age. According to Pellegrini, a remaining question is if the current scheme with life-expectancy should remain the key calculation factor, or if the retirement age should be fixed. The labor ministry considers a retirement age ceiling of 65 years, whereas the trade unions propose 64 years. An agreement must be reached by end-June, so that the relevant legislation can be prepared and passed.

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