Minimum wage positions staked out
A minimum wage rise from the current monthly CZK 9,900 to CZK 11,000 has been proposed by labour minister Michaela Marksová, with the backing of prime minister and fellow Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka.
But the proposal, made at a tripartite meeting of the government, trade unions and employers’ representatives, was not to the other parties' liking. The unions pushed for CZK 500 more and the employers, while content to see an increase, were not minded to go any higher than CZK 10,600. The employers’ view was supported by finance minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), the billionaire owner, of course, of a business empire. The final decision will rest with the cabinet. Since its members are far from singing from the same hymn sheet, getting there could well prove a bumpy ride.
Marksová is standing firmly behind her recommendation, reasoning that a country like the Czech Republic must not be at the “EU’s tail end” when it comes to the minimum wage. The PM, meanwhile, asserts that it must pay to work. On the other hand, the employers insist that they must keep costs under control. Hiking wages could make some industries uncompetitive, they say. “Regularly increasing the minimum wage creates pressure to increase pay in general,” said Vladimír Dlouhý, chairman of the Czech Chamber of Commerce.
The government’s goal, spelled out in its program, is to lift the minimum wage to a level equal to 40 percent of the country's average salary. The lowest legal wage was last raised at the start of this year by CZK 700 from CZK 9,200.