The trade union confederations of the Czech and Slovak Republics – CMKOS and KOZ – have called national demonstrations on 8 October to call for action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. They argue that their respective governments need to undertake urgent measures to support households in the face of soaring inflation and particularly high energy costs. They want to see increases in wages in general and particularly minimum wages and assurance that government budgets will include provisions to cover pay rises in public services.
The SOZZASS health workers’ union has expressed concern over the way that the health ministry is addressing health workers’ pay and its failure so far to undertake proper negotiations with the unions. In its latest announcement the ministry has indicated its willingness to increase pay for nurses and refers to bringing average nurses’ pay up from 89% to 100% of average earnings. While SOZZASS welcomes a commitment to increase pay for nurses it says that this should be as the result of collective bargaining and that all health workers deserve a pay rise.
The KOZ trade union confederation reports that collective agreements for state and public service workers have been negotiated for the period 1.1.2023-31.8.2024. Basic salary scales will increase by 7% from 1 January 2023 and by a further 10% from 1 September 2023. Amendments to higher-level collective agreements for 2022 provide civil and public servants with a one-off payment of €500 in August. Pay increases for health workers are still being negotiated. The latest collective agreements also include a range of social benefits, not least a reduction of working time for public employees
Civil servants and other public sector workers will get a 3% increase in pay as of 1 July 2022 and will also receive a one-off payment of €350 in January. In the second half of 2022, there will also be an extra day of paid leave. Although the increase is below the trade unions’ initial demands it is significantly better than the 0% offer that the government had made in the third round of bargaining.
Following the large demonstration in October in support of a pay rise for public service workers, unions are angry and disappointed that the government has failed to respond. Marián Magdoška, president of the KOZ trade union confederation said that unions were presented with the budget for 2022 a day before a tripartite meeting and realised that, despite promises from last year, it didn’t include any provisions to cover even a pay rise to compensate for inflation. The health union is also angry that in negotiations at the end of October the government was effectively blackmailing unions by
The KOZ trade union confederation organised a national demonstration in Bratislava on 27 October in support of the 13% pay claim by public service trade unions. The government has not offered any pay rise at all for 2022 and the unions are looking to ensure that workers are compensated for inflation, as energy and other prices soar, and for recent years when pay in the public sector has lagged behind increases in the minimum wage. KOZ also used the demonstration to draw attention to the impact of prices rises across the economy and to call for increases in pensions and other social benefits.
On 18 June 20 trade union activists and officers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey took part in a webinar on organizing and recruitment. It was third online meeting prepared and run by the EPSU’s recruitment and organising team.