Business Press: Salaries rising on back of economic growth

10-03-2016 12:55 | Ian Willoughby

The growth in the Czech economy is increasingly reflected in the pay packets of the country’s workers, Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday. The average increase is 4 percent, the newspaper said. While large employers such as Czech Rail, Unipetrol and CEZ agreed wage increases at the end of last year, more firms are now doing likewise.

Photo: Filip Jandourek, ČRoPhoto: Filip Jandourek, ČRo The findings are the result of a survey carried out among some of the country’s biggest employers and trade union representatives by Hospodářské noviny and the news site Aktuálně.cz.

The country’s Confederation of Trade Unions launched a campaign in the middle of last year entitled The End of Cheap Labour, calling on workers not to be afraid to demand higher pay at a time when the economy was growing.

Gross domestic product grew by 4.3 percent in 2015 and state sector employees got a 3 percent wage rise back in November.

Companies are receiving more orders and taking on more staff. The national Labour Office reported that there were almost 115,000 free positions at the end of last month, the highest number since just after the start of the financial crisis.

In a bid to find good candidates in some sectors employers have no choice but to actively headhunt from competitors.

Building technology firm Ammann Group in Nové Město nad Metují have gone so far as to increase wages by 13 percent, Hospodářské noviny reported. In most companies, however, staff are glad to receive a third of that amount.

Steelmaker Třinecké železárny, for instance, has upped salaries by 4 percent. If the firm does well workers can expect another rise of 2 percent, a spokesperson told the newspaper.

Unions have also managed to secure raises in the retail sector. Ahold, which runs Albert supermarkets, agreed to give workers at non-executive level 3 percent more from this month.

Penny Market, another supermarket chain, has given cashiers 2.6 percent-rises and senior employees up to 3.9 percent more. Management at Tesco and Globus are in pay talks with workers’ representatives.

Talks are also ongoing at the likes of Škoda Auto, the TPCA car plant in Kolín, ČSOB bank and leading brewery Plzeňské Prazdroj, Hospodářské noviny reported.

Many companies have rejected the idea of across-the-board rises, choosing instead to reward selected employees. These include Komerční banka, O2, McDonald’s and construction firm Metrostav.

The head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Středula, says the End of Cheap Labour campaign was even more successful than they had hoped for.

However, union leaders in particular sectors have a mixed view of the campaign’s impact, Hospodářské noviny said.

Companies are rewarding staff in a variety of ways from monthly rises of CZK 1,000 to 5 percent-raises to 13th and even 14th month’s pay, said the head of the union representing workers in the textiles, clothing and leather goods sector.

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