Sunday, 22 October 2017

Western countries should push for pay rise in East, minister says

ČTK |
11 August 2017

Prague, Aug 10 (CTK) - West European countries should help their Eastern partners in the fight against cheap labour if they want to deal with "social and wage dumping," Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters today.

He added that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) should open this issue during his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to be held in Salzburg, Austria, in two weeks.

It will also be attended by the Austrian and Slovak prime ministers, Christian Kern and Robert Fico, respectively.

Kern wants to tackle social and wage dumping in Austria, which, according to him and Macron, affects the labour market in Western Europe.

France and other West European countries express a more and more stronger disagreement with people from the EU's poorer countries working in the West for the pay common in their homelands.

However, Zaoralek criticised Western countries, saying they on the one hand mind workers from the East earning less than their Western counterparts, but one the other hand, they do not exert pressure on the employers from their countries to raise wages of their workforce in the East.

"Why do they pay low wages to the employees of their firms in the Czech Republic?" Zaoralek asked.

Western countries should push for their firms to raise wages in their branches in Eastern Europe, he said.

Social differences between the Eastern and Western EU members lead to other conflicts as well, Zaoralek said, adding that they are also behind the countries' different view of migration issues.

This is why, he said, he considers the harmonisation of such differences a priority.

"I wished we had such tools in Europe to enable us to balance (the differences) much better that we did so far," Zaoralek pointed out.

Macron debated immense differences between the East and the West of the EU at his meeting with the prime ministers of the other Visegrad Four (V4) countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, in Brussels in late June.

The participants said the differences in wages, which Paris labelled social dumping, had consequences for the labour market in the Western EU countries.

hol/dr

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