(February 2017) The Eurofound research agency has published a new analysis of minimum wage rates across the EU noting the increase in rates, particularly across Eastern Europe. The article confirms, however, that there is still a wide range of rates across the continent, ranging from EUR 1999 in Luxembourg to EUR 238 in Bulgaria. Of the 22 EU countries with statutory minimum wages all have seen an increase in real terms since 2010 with the exception of Greece where the Troika pressured a previous government to cut the rate substantially.
Upward trend in minimum wages
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The monthly and hourly minimum wage rates are set to rise by just over 9%, taking the monthly amount to EUR 607 and the hourly rate to EUR 3.72. The minimum wage is discussed in a tripartite council which takes into account a number of factors but the increases are also linked to specific targets - since 2017 it was stipulated that the ratio of the minimum wage to the average wage should be kept between 45% and 50%. It is also linked to trends in minimum and average wages across the European Union.
The UGT confederation has launched a campaign for a minimum wage of €1000 a month. This target was discussed earlier this year with the CCOO confederation and the PSOE socialist party. The UGT has set the target for negotiations in collective agreements and also to achieve for the national minimum wage by 2020. The confederation argues that the figure is entirely justified with 3.5% economic growth and businesses now seeing profits and dividends at pre-crisis levels. At the same time average salaries are more than 5% below their 2009 level in real terms.
A new report from the ETUC, as part of its Pay Rise campaign, shows that minimum wage rates across Europe need to rise significantly just to reach an official measure of low pay (60% of the national median wage as used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Minimum wages in Estonia, Czech Republic and Spain need some of the largest increases to reach the low pay threshold - 46%, 51% and 62% respectively. The ETUC argues that national governments need to sit down with trade unions and employers to discuss how to reach the target.