Prime Minister Petr Nečas is to meet with labour union representatives on Thursday evening to specify the means by which the government intends to decrease public sector wages in 2011. Unions have complained they have not been informed of a clear plan to implement the government’s recent proposal of cuts and say they will prepare their further response according to what they learn from the PM. The most recent proposal, which was passed by the cabinet but has not been published, entails “bracket remuneration” that would allow employees’ salaries to be set regardless of the number of years they have been employed. Union leaders say they will not agree with this proposal.
Meanwhile, the daily Právo reports that the Minister of Finance, Miroslav Kalousek, has prepared a change in funding regulations that may lead to state employees losing benefits next year. The fifty percent cut to the cultural and social needs fund could entail the loss of state employees’ allowances for holidays, pension insurance, emergency assistance payments or meal allowances. According to the finance minister’s report on the change, the additional 1.2 billion crowns saved would help decrease the budget deficit and meet the government’s goal of reforming public finances for the sake of a balanced budget by 2016. The state employees’ union has said the proposal is devastating. Last week a demonstration of some 40,000 people protested 10% cuts to state employees’ salaries that have already been proposed for 2011. Trade Unions are considering strike action in October.
Planned government reforms will bring the salaries of public sector
employees down by 20 percent over the next four years, Czech Finance
Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Czech TV on Sunday. The government is
planning to cut the salaries of state employees by 10 percent next year,
this, together with a three-year freeze on the salaries, will mean they
will decrease by 20 percent by 2014, Mr Kalousek said. Until now, salaries
in the public sector have been rising by 3-4 percent a year.
Earlier this week, some 40,000 trade union members protested the planed 10-percent cut at a rally in Prague. A trade union leader said on Saturday that if the government introduces some controversial changes to the labour code, the unions might call a general strike.
The head of the Confederation of Czech Trade Unions, Jaroslav Zavadil, has
threatened to call a general strike if the Czech government goes adopt
controversial changes to the labour code. Mr Zavadil told reporters at a
Social Democrat party conference in Olomouc on Saturday that a general
strike was an option if the right-of-centre cabinet allows employers to
fire employees without stating a reason, and to repeatedly give employees
contracts for a definite period.
Some 40,000 trade union members took to the streets of Prague earlier this week in protest against planned 10-percent cuts in salaries of state employees.
The government may delay its plan to change the salary scales according to which employees in the public sphere are paid, Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek said on Wednesday following talks with trade union leaders. The government’s concession comes in the wake of a massive anti-government demonstration on Tuesday when 40,000 people took to the streets to protest against 10 percent salary cuts for public sector employees in 2011 and an overhaul of the payment system which would have reduced fixed salaries and increased bonuses for performance. Trade union organizations will meet later today to decide whether the concession is enough to stop further anti-government protests.
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Jaromír Drábek, said the demonstration by the unions was a direct result of their refusal to negotiate any changes. He said they stuck to their position that there was no need to change the status quo and also accused them of distorting the government’s saving plans. Mr. Drábek insisted that the 10 percent cut in state wage costs was a fundamental pillar of the government programme. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the government would not be diverted from that overall target but was prepared to negotiate with the unions on details of the cost cutting.
Czech trades unions held their first major protest against pay cuts being
introduced by the centre-right coalition government on Tuesday. Police
estimated participation at around 40,000. Organisers said they reckoned it
was around 45,000. They had originally counted on around 20,000 union
members from around the country would take part in the demonstration which
got underway in Prague just before noon. Among those taking part were
police officers, fire fighters and health workers.
The unions are opposed to a planned 10-percent overall reduction in the operating costs of ministries and the state sector next year. Wage costs are expected to be cut by 10 percent as part of those savings with a choice between cuts in jobs or cuts in salaries. The state sector would also cut capital investments by 5.0 percent. The recently appointed government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas aims to balance the Czech state budget by 2016. Among its priorities are reform of the country’s pension, health and third level education systems.
President Václav Klaus also intervened against the demonstration by unions. The president said that the planned cuts by the government were unavoidable and the same measures were taking place across the world. They were, he said, the result of the long running irresponsible policy of politicians in spending more money than they received in revenues. He said the strike would change nothing and added that budget cuts were much more brutal in many European countries than in the Czech Republic.
An estimated 40,000 trade union members took to the streets of Prague on Tuesday to protest against public sector pay cuts planned by the recently appointed Czech government. Turnout at the first major rally against the austerity measures was double that expected, but the government has made it clear that it is not ready to give in to the pressure.
Trade union members from around the Czech Republic gathered in Prague on Tuesday to demonstrate against planned public sector pay cuts. But what can such a protest achieve, given that the government says the cuts simply have to be implemented? And what will the unions do if their demands go unheeded? Radio Prague discussed those questions on Tuesday morning with union leader Josef Středula at the headquarters of the Czech confederation of trades unions.