The Cabinet has confirmed plans to increase public sector wages as of
January, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová (Social
Democrats) said on Wednesday.
Wages are set to rise most in the sectors of education (by 10 percent on average) and healthcare (by seven percent on average). Most government employees will see their wages rise by five percent, while police, firefighters and soldiers will get a two percent raise.
The wage increases were set in the 2019 draft budget, which the lower house of Parliament approved in its first reading in late October.
Apart from the increase in public sector salaries, government spending next year should prioritise the social sphere and investments into infrastructure.
Despite the Czech school system maintaining a relatively strong position in international testing, the ratio of what the country’s teachers earn in comparison to other university graduates is among the lowest in the OECD. The government’s manifesto promises to increase the amount of investment in schooling, but it will likely be a long time before the effects become evident.
Among the new generation of teachers, there is a significant range in their
own literacy, mathematical and other skills, pointing to regional and
institutional inequalities in pedagogical education, a new study by the
IDEA Institute says.
According to the study, differences in the quality of education provided by various teaching faculties are widening. The respective competency of older generations of teachers does not vary to such an extent, regardless of where they earned their degrees, it says.
The centrist Ano party and its junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, have reached a framework agreement on increasing public sector salaries. While the specifics have not yet been made public, the coalition has agreed on a differentiated range of salary increases of about 8 per cent on average, with workers who now earn the least set to get the biggest raises.
Coalition parties ANO and the Social Democrats have come to an agreement on
raising public sector salaries next year. The chairman of the latter
grouping, Jan Hamáček, told journalists that the Ministry of Finance had
agreed to considerably higher increases than originally proposed.
The Social Democrats leader refused to reveal the precise figure involved but other senior party members indicated that it would be around 10 percent. For their part, ANO ministers would only say that they continued to favour salary increases.
The Ministry of Finance has produced a plan to reduce the number of state
employees in the Czech Republic, iDnes.cz reported. Almost one in every 20
Czechs works for the state and recently President Miloš Zeman criticised
the growing “army” of officials, the news site said.
Ministry officials say the plan is not radical and would not lead to many layoffs. However, it is the first such programme in a decade and follows increased hiring by state organisations under previous governments.
Under the scheme unoccupied positions that ministries keep as a back-up – and for which they receive cash from state coffers – would be discontinued. The Minister of Finance, Alena Schillerová, said this could save up to CZK 3.4 billion.
President Miloš Zeman agrees with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Finance
Minister Alena Schillerová that a 10-percent pay rise in the state
administration next year – which is being proposed by trade unions –
would be wrong. The latter quoted Mr. Zeman after the two ANO politicians
met the head of state and his team of experts at his Lány retreat near
Prague on Saturday.
The government is planning a 15 percent salary increase for teachers in 2019 and 6 percent raise for other state employees, such as fire and police officers and clerks. However, union leaders want such employees to get 10 percent more.
Ms. Schillerová said she, Mr. Babiš and Mr. Zeman believed that there should be a debate on pay rises. However, a 10 percent rise would cost the state an extra CZK 5 billion and would not be appropriate, she told reporters.
Good government watchdog Transparency International has warned that moves by the current Czech government to sack top level civil servants and members of the state administration have gone a lot further than originally declared. And it says that further encroachments on what should be a non-political administration are threatened.
State expenditures for wages of public sector employees rose by 15.2
billion crowns last year reaching 166.6 billion crowns, according to a
government report presented to Parliament.
The average wage of public employees reached 30.627 crown a month in 2017, while the average wage in the country is 29.504 crowns a month. The number of public sector employees grew by over nine thousand, the report says.