Negotiations About Increase of Minimum Wage in Serbia for 2023 and 2024 Finished Without Result

Source: Beta Monday, 21.08.2023. 14:27
(Photo: Shutterstock/Janusz Pienkowski)
Representatives of the Ministry of Finance of Serbia, employers and representative trade unions today finished the negotiations about the increase of the minimum wage for 2023 and 2024, but without result.

The trade unions insisted on a written response about why the minimum wage for this year cannot be increased, before the negotiations about the minimum wage for next year began.

– We haven’t given up on our request to, before we start talking about increasing the minimum wage for 2024, finish the stopped negotiations about the adjustment for this year, because the inflation is high and the minimal consumer basket cost RSD 52,000 in May already, and the minimum wage is RSD 40,000 this year – the representative of the United Branch Trade Unions (USG) “Nezavisnost”, Zoran Ristic, told the Beta news agency.

He added that the Labor Act envisaged the possibility of correcting the wage twice a year in cases of market disturbance, such as the high inflation.

He added that the trade unions did not accept the oral explanation of the Ministry of Finance that there was no reason to increase the minimum wage in 2023.

Ristic said that the trade unions had proposed for the minimum wage to be adjusted by at least 10% in 2023 in order to preserve the purchasing power of the workers who are paid the minimum wage.

This spring, the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS) and USG Nezavisnost launched the initiative to have the minimum wage adjusted for 2023, but representatives of the Ministry of Finance had the same argument as today – that there was no reason for an increase, and the talks were stopped.

Both trade unions announced at the time that they would not start any talks about the minimum wage for the next year before the state increased it for the current year or provided a rational argument for why there is no reason to do so.

Ristic said that the trade unions had proposed for the minimum wage to increase at least 10% from September 2023, and then around 20% for the next one, “because it is not realistic to do so in one step.”

He reminded that domestic companies had increased the profit by around 26% the previous year and that there was room to adjust the minimum wage as well.

The trade unions, he said, are also going by the fact that the state promised back in 2018 that the value of the minimal consumer basket would be equalized with the minimum wage in 2021.

If they are not satisfied with the response of the Ministry of Finance, the trade unions will make the decision on the further action through trade unions on August 25, when the negotiations are to continue, Ristic said.

The president of the Serbian Association of Employers, Nebojsa Atanackovic, said that companies, in case an agreement was reached about the increase of the minimum wage for 2023 and 2024, expected the state to increase the non-taxable wage component, so that a part of the burden would be handled by the state, and not just them.

Negotiations about the increase of the minimum wage for the next year, according to the law, begin in mid-August of the current year and have to be completed by September 15, and if no agreement is reached between the social partners, the state, the trade unions and the employers, the minimum wage is set by the state.

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, announced ahead recently, as he had done the previous two years, that the minimum wage for 2024 would amount to EUR 400, without specifying the amount in dinars. The trade unions point out that Vucic is not in charge of setting the minimum wage and assess that he is thereby devaluing the negotiations.

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