Wide variation in minimum wage rates across Eastern Europe
(18 May 2010) While national minimum wages in the European Union (1) are mostly between 30% and 50% of average earnings, the rates in Eastern Europe outside the EU (2) vary much more widely. They range from below 10% in Kyrgyztan to over 60% in Albania and Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is one of the main findings of a new report from EPSU.
The report provides an overview of national minimum wages in the 18 countries in Eastern Europe outside of the European Union that have national minimum wages. It looks at recent trends and compares minimum wage rates on the basis of average earnings in each country.
In some countries, governments have clearly made an effort to increase the level of the minimum wage. In Moldova and Azerbaijan, for example, the minimum wage has increased by 10 percentage points as a proportion of average earnings. However, this still leaves most countries in Eastern Europe outside the EU with minimum wages below 30% of average wages.
In June 2009 EPSU’s Congress agreed a resolution(3) that set a campaigning target to get European states that have national minimum wages to increase them to at least 60% of average earnings – a level recognized as an international marker of low pay. The figures for countries in Eastern Europe outside the EU that are now part of the EPSU European region(4), show that it is even more important to support affiliates in those countries who are negotiating or campaigning to achieve higher minimum wage rates.
1) 20 of the 27 EU Member States have national minimum wages. The exceptions are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
2) The countries covered by the report are: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Georgian, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
3) Paragraph 12 of the resolution on collective bargaining
4) 2010 sees the first year of a merger between EPSU and the European region of Public Service International. This means that EPSU now covers 49 countries including 10 countries in Eastern Europe outside of the EU.