Unions asking for a new minimum wage of RSD 24,360 – Negotiations with employers begin

Source: Novosti Monday, 01.08.2016. 12:48
Serbian employers have finally given in, following months of refusal to discuss the raising of the minimum wage, and the negotiations with the representative unions about the modification of the lowest remuneration are to begin next week. The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and the United Branch Unions “Nezavisnost” are asking for the minimum wage to be raised from RSD 21,054 to RSD 24,360, whereas the Serbian Association of Employers (SAE) still hasn't said anything about the amount, but they agree that it needs to be raised.

For Nebojsa Atanackovic, the president of SAE, the negotiations have only just started, but he believes that all conditions are met for the minimum hourly wage of RSD 121 to be raised.

– The unions are asking for RSD 140 per hour, which is too much, as it is around 15% higher, and the prices haven't gone up by as much. We can't raise the wage by the amount relative to the improvement in operations either, because the expenses are becoming increasingly higher as well. For example, in many cities, the water for commercial and industrial use is up to three times more expensive than the water for domestic use, whereas in Belgrade it is twice as expensive – Atanackovic claims.

He explains that the raising of the minimum wage causes the growth of other earnings as well, and with that a growth of a company's total funds.

– The minimal consumer basket nowadays costs around RSD 35,000, and with the raise we are asking for, workers in Serbia will only be able to buy 70% of groceries in it – says Dusko Vukovic, vice president of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia.

Zeljko Veselinovic, president of the United Trade Unions of Serbia “Sloga”, believes that the raising of the minimum wage by a few dinars, which can be realistically expected, is not sufficient.

– The methodology of determining the minimum wage hasn't existed for a long time, there are no criteria. The only factor is the good will of the Government and the employers, unions possess no influence there. The minimum wage should be raised to RSD 28,000, which is an average price of work, for workers to feel a tangible improvement – Veselinovic says.

He believes that the minimum wage in Serbia has become a political issue, not an economic one, and that it is being used to score easy points.

The negotiations on the level of the minimum wage, which should be defined, according to the law, by September 15, will begin next week.
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