Trade Unions Proposing Extraordinary Minimum Wage Increase to RSD 50,000

Source: kurir Thursday, 18.05.2023. 10:54
Illustration (Photo: Shutterstock/Kosta Kostic)Illustration
Negotiations about the extraordinary minimum wage increase are to begin on May 19, and trade union representatives will, this time as well, propose that the amount must be increased to RSD 50,000, which is the current value of the minimal consumer basket. They are united in their position that the inflation has already annulled the previous January increase and that urgent action must be taken so that around 400,000 workers would not be additionally jeopardized.

The Social-Economic Council (SEC) has accepted the joint initiative of two representative trade unions – the United Branch Trade Unions “Independence” (“Nezavisnost”) and the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS) for the commencement of activities toward analyses and negotiations. On the other hand, the Serbian Association of Employers has not yet taken an official position, but will certainly take part in the talks.

Most recently, the lowest guaranteed wage was increased on January 1, 2023, and now the price of a work hour for the simplest job is RSD 230, but depending on the number of days in a month, this year it has ranged from RSD 36,800 in April to RSD 42,320 in May.

Before the negotiations begin, the Executive Board of Nezavisnost should adopt its negotiation position, which will be based on the position that the monthly minimum wage may not be lower than the minimal consumer basket.

– The considerable changes in the field of existential and social needs of workers and their families, expressed through the value of the minimal consumer basket, the trend of the employment rate in the labor market, the growth rate of the GDP, the consumer price trends, the productivity and the average salary… are reason enough for the question of a new minimum wage to be placed on the agenda as soon as possible – the trade union says.
The minimum wage is not always the same

In this year, workers will be paid the highest minimum wage three times. The first time was in March, the second in May, and the third awaits them in August. A day less in their card, 22, they had in January, and they will have the same number in June, October and November, which is a wage of RSD 40,480. For July, September and December, they will have 21 days recorded and a salary of RSD 38,640, whereas April and February are the months with the lowest earnings, due to the minimal number of work hours.
All this, according to them, is also a confirmation of the well-argued position of Nezavisnost that the minimum wage increase by 14.3%, as decided in September 2022 by the Government of Serbia, was insufficient.

Zoran Mihajlovic of SSSS emphasizes that the Labor Act envisages, in principle, for the lowest guaranteed salary to be able to change up to two times a year in cases of a bigger market disturbance, as is the case at the moment.

– The inflation is currently higher than 16%, and an addition burden on the home budget of the workers will be caused by the recent electricity and gas price increase. I believe that another inflation shock is to follow, which will lead to new price jumps when it comes to basic foodstuffs. We are losing the race with the minimal consumer basket, which has exceeded RSD 50,000, and the minimum wage is already now lower than it by RSD 10,000 – he said for Kurir.

He emphasizes that the difference is growing with each day, and that what the normal consumer basket contains can only be afforded by employees who earn the minimum wage up to the middle of the month:

– Its value is already RSD 90,000, which points to the conclusion that there is no existence to speak of with the minimum wage. That is why we are not only asking for this wage to increase, but for all salaries to go up. Salaries have increased nominally, but in real terms, they have completely lost the race with the prices.

Nebojsa Atanackovic of the Serbian Association of Employers says that their association will consider the trade unions’ requests, but that they will only propose a wage after they’ve carried out a survey among their members:

– We also have to wait to see what the position of the Ministry of Finance is, as well as that of the Government of Serbia, which is the biggest employer in the country. After that, we will start the negotiations.

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