Employers angered by unions demand for 10 percent wage hike in private sector

Czech and Moravian trade unions have said they will demand an 8 to 10 percent wage hike in negotiations with employers, based on the country’s healthy growth and wage rises in the public sector. Employers have dismissed the demand as unrealistic, and are refusing an increase across the board.

Illustrative photo: Filip JandourekIllustrative photo: Filip Jandourek The head of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Josef Stredula defended the demand for higher wages saying that the unions were not out to damage companies. "We will consider the company’s profit, how much is invested, how much goes to the mother company, and how much employees are getting," he said. He pointed to the fact that wages in the public sector have been growing faster than those in the private sector. Since 2011 public sector employees have received on average 5,800 crowns more in their monthly pay packet, while workers in the private sector only received 3,200 more on average. The average wage in the private sector thus grew less than the average salary. "At a time of healthy economic growth and low unemployment more money in the private sector should be going into employees pockets," the trade union head noted.

The demand – and its justification – drew an angry response from the president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Vladimir Dlouhy, who said trade unions should be more aware of their place in society and should stop inciting hatred towards employers. Dlouhy said he was not against hikes, but they could not be across the board and must depend on the state and performance of individual companies, and branches of the industry. He moreover pointed out that according to a survey compiled by Hospodarske Noviny 75 percent off all companies in the Czech Republic raised wages this year. Employers generally got a 5 percent hike. One in six firms raised wages by 7 percent and more.

The President of the Union of Industry and Transport Jaroslav Hanak also dismissed the demand as unrealistic saying the unions were racking up political pressure ahead of the elections.

Union leader Josef Stredula is not about to be browbeaten. He countered that the said increases would never have happened were it not for persistent pressure from trade union organizations and added that should employees want to bring the message home by going on strike alert or a full-blown strike the Confederation of Czech and Moravian Trade Unions would readily to support them.