Slovakia: social partners reach historic agreement on minimum wage increase

Slovakia: social partners reach historic agreement on minimum wage increase

Slovak trade unions and employers have agreed on an 8% increase in the monthly minimum wage, from 646 to 700 euros, which is a historic first in the country.

This measure, however, represents only a small relief for the poorest employees, because it will not entirely offset the rise in prices, while inflation reached 12.6% in May year-on-year.

In Slovakia, minimum wage increases can be determined by the social partners. However, unions and employers have so far failed to overcome their differences, so the government has taken responsibility for setting the mandatory minimum wage. Thus, since 2019, in the absence of an agreement, the minimum wage is set at 57% of the average wage of the two previous years.

This historic agreement could therefore mark a change in tactics on the part of the unions.

The Confederation of Trade Unions signed a cooperation agreement with the social democratic party Smer-SD in 2010 and relied on their political support in wage negotiations.

But the union leaders elected in June have indicated that they want to end this agreement.

The official stated objective is to “depoliticize” unions, but unofficially the alliance with Smer-SD has become politically toxic. Several important representatives of the party, including its president Robert Fico, are under investigation and face corruption charges. Moreover, the party has moved towards the extreme right and cooperates with the extremist Republika party.

The historic agreement is an important political victory for the new leadership of the unions.

The Slovak minimum wage is theoretically comparable to that of other Central and Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Croatia. However, by purchase parity standards, it is the third lowest among the 21 EU countries with a mandatory minimum wage.

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