Prague – Trade unionists of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS) are calling for a demonstration on Wenceslas Square in Prague on October 8 due to the current situation. They called on the government to take measures against rising prices and falling living standards in the Czech Republic. Union leaders said this at a trade union rally against poverty. About a thousand trade unionists from all over the country arrived at the Karlín Forum in Prague.
ČMKOS is the largest trade union headquarters in the country. It covers 31 unions with about 270,000 members. The gathering has traditionally been held every September since 2015. In the past two years, it was not held due to the epidemic.
The trade unionists called their October action “12 in five minutes”. It will start on Saturday, October 8 at 12:05 p.m. Today, at their event, which they describe as a “demonstration meeting”, they criticized the government for inaction. They point to a sharp rise in prices and a real drop in income.
In previous years, at the September meeting, trade unionists prepared for negotiations on salary increases. They had the slogan “End of cheap work”. This time they mainly focused on high inflation. They propose reducing VAT on selected goods, capping prices, increasing benefits and introducing support for companies as during the epidemic.
The gathering started after 11:00 with a light and laser show with a dance performance. The hall was filled with trade unionists. Compared to the last event in 2019, which was also held at the Karlín Forum, slightly fewer people arrived. Part of the seats in the hall remained free, this time the corridors were also empty. The atmosphere was also less stormy than in previous years. Part of the trade unionists left the speech of ČMKOS leader Josef Středula and other performances without applause.
The conclusion of the assembly was reminiscent of election campaigns. Středula, who is now collecting signatures for his presidential candidacy, took off his jacket and, wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, surrounded himself on stage with heads of public and private sector unions. The statement of the public sphere with a challenge to the government was then read by the chairwoman of the health unions, Dagmar Žitníková, and the statement for the private sphere by the head of the largest KOVO union, Roman Ďurčo.
The public sector unions demanded a salary increase this year due to rising prices. In the end, they made an agreement with the cabinet that only those earnings that did not rise in January will be adjusted from September. The frozen salary scales of non-pedagogical workers, culture employees and officials have now increased by ten percent. Starting in January, the salary base should then be adjusted by ten percent for police officers and firefighters. It is about adding other professions. Leaders have not yet specified what wage growth they will request for company employees.
According to the Ministry of Finance, average inflation should reach 16.2 percent this year. Next year it could be 8.8 percent. The unemployment rate should remain low. The sum for salaries and wages should rise by 7.9 percent next year compared to this year.
ČMKOS continues to request an increase in the minimum wage by CZK 2,000 to CZK 18,200 this year
ČMKOS continues to demand an increase in the minimum wage by 2,000 crowns to 18:200 crowns, and this is still this year. Trade unionists will negotiate wage increases in companies for next year individually, depending on the situation of individual companies. Středula said this at a meeting of trade unions against poverty.
The confederation proposes against the high cost of reducing VAT on selected goods, capping prices, increasing benefits and introducing support for companies as during the epidemic. Středula mentioned, for example, the then short-term work program Antivirus with contributions to wages from the state.
“We will proceed individually. If there are profits, we will come to talk about them in collective bargaining,” said Středula, who is currently collecting signatures for his presidential candidacy. In the past, the headquarters gave recommendations for the percentage increase in earnings that union negotiators in companies should strive for. She did not announce a specific requirement for next year.
The minimum wage was last raised in January this year by one thousand crowns to 16,200 crowns. The request to add 2,000 crowns this year due to price increases was published by the central office at the end of April. Today Středula repeated it. Unions point out that the lowest net income is below the poverty line.
High-add employers disagree. They remind us that costs are rising. They mention energy or fuel prices. They point out that with the minimum wage, the guaranteed wage also increases. It is paid in eight stages according to expertise, responsibility and the difficulty of the work. It ranges from the minimum wage to its double, i.e. now up to 32,400 crowns.
In the program statement, the government expects to introduce a formula for the regular valorization of the lowest earnings. In the last election period, the then government of Andrej Babiš (ANO) also planned this, but they did not agree on the model with trade unions and employers. The EU is also preparing a directive that would regulate the minimum wage in member countries.
According to the head of ČMKOS, the union’s demands for earnings growth are not pro-inflationary. “The sources (of inflation) are abroad and in the state’s absolute inability to prevent unauthorized price increases,” says Středula. In his speech, he criticized Fial’s government for inaction at a time of sharp price increases.
government social economy trade unions wages