Sunday, 20 April 2014

Sobotka: Public sector wages to drop by 30% by 2015

17 February 2011

Prague, Feb 16 (CTK) - Wages in the Czech public sector will decline by 25 to 30 percent in this election period due to the government's wrong pay development plan, senior opposition Social Democrat (CSSD) acting head Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters Wednesday, adding that the government should change the plan.

It should also change its wrong budget policy that reduces financial sources, as a result of which it lacks money for welfare spending and public services, Sobotka said after meeting leaders of the police and firefighters' unions and other unions of public sector employees.

He said the government's plan will demotivate employees and lead to the collapse of the public sector.

The CSSD expects unions in other sectors to follow the example of doctors' mass protests, he said.

The government should seek financial reserves and a change. It also has to negotiate with unions, Sobotka added.

In connection with the doctors' threat to leave hospitals en mass as from March 1 if their demands are not met, Sobotka called on the government to support the draft agreement between the Health Ministry and the protesting doctors.

The draft memorandum that Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) submitted on Monday should be signed by Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) personally as Heger's fate as minister is uncertain.

Sobotka called the memorandum a reasonable compromise.

Earlier Wednesday, the cabinet heard Heger's information about the crisis in the health sector and decided to discuss its solutions next week. It asked the doctors' union to end the protest campaign by then.

Sobotka described the increase in doctors' base pay, as embedded in the memorandum, as the doctors' success.

He said by rejecting the memorandum, the government would not only threaten health care accessibility but also pave the way to the privatisation of many health facilities.

"The sharks" are waiting for lucrative offers, he said.

CSSD shadow interior minister Jeronym Tejc told journalists that the CSSD understands the policemen and firemen who have launched a petition to have Radek John (Public Affairs, VV) unseated as interior minister.

A petition is no standard step, it is something extraordinary, but the minister [John] is extraordinary as well, Tejc said.

The centre-right government's decision to reduce police and firefighters' pay by 10 percent as from January 1 has in fact led to their pay being reduced by 8 to 20 percent. That is why Necas and John should deal with the situation responsibly, to meet unions and seek financial reserves, Tejc said.

The government's effort to reduce the base pay as much as possible and its assertion that capable policemen will be compensated through bonuses sound untrustworthy. The only bonuses to be paid out in the interior sector so far have been paid to officials at the ministry, who received bonuses worth hundreds of thousands of crowns, Tejc said.

Sobotka said Wednesday's CSSD-unions meeting was no rarity. Similar meetings will continue to be held, he said.

Established in mid-2010, the Necas government has taken a series of austerity measures and plans crucial reforms to stabilise public finances and lower the budget deficit.

The next general election is due in 2014.

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