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Company CEO to receive minimum wage until crisis over

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Pavel Juříček, CEO and owner of Brano Group, a company with nearly 2,500 employees and over CZK 1 billion share capital, started to pay himself the minimum wage in late January owing to the economic situation.

In the first part of an interview with the daily Aktuálně.cz, he admitted that he did not know when he would stop paying himself this wage. Because he has decided to continue this policy until the automotive industry and his company overcome the crisis. “When? I don’t know. That would be fortune telling,” said Juříček, 51, who received the prestigious award Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006.

Are you still paying yourself the minimum wage? What made you do that?

Yes, I am. What made me do that was the knowledge that you cannot order something and do something different. You have to serve as an example. I am not naive to think that all people would appreciate it. Some may regard it just as a populist step, some would say: “He has lined his own pockets already.” We are Czechs, so we are able to thwart and slander any good intention.

Have you set beforehand any deadline or any criterion for when you start to pay yourself an ordinary salary again?

Yes. Until the end of 2009. And there are two conditions. I will only stop paying myself the minimum wage after the impact of the economic crisis on the automotive industry is over and after BRANO returns to a growth.

Corporate culture becomes apparent in crisis
Why these particular criteria?

I think both of them are logical. And if only one is met it is not sufficient for BRANO or for the automotive industry.

So when do you think the moment comes that you will stop paying yourself the minimum wage?

I don’t know, it would be fortune telling. But I think it will not be before 2011.

What was the reaction of workers and of managers to your decision?

Mostly positive, but more positive in the media.

Do you know of anyone else who has found inspiration in what you did and took a similar step?
Not in the Czech Republic. But abroad it is quite a common practice. Many managers have reduced their wages, including whole managerial teams and even all employees. And these are not small companies, there are also car manufacturers among them. They do so in the form of lower basic wages, cancelled bonuses and cuts in working hours with an aliquot reduction. It has something to do with corporate culture that simply becomes apparent in times of crisis.

What companies did it?

I cannot give their names because I do not have their permission. But I do know them personally, and there are at least ten of them. Their basic idea is that the company has to survive. If the firm survives, then also the individual in it survives and so does the whole of his family.


Pavel Juříček has been at the helm of Brano for 13 years. As a minority owner, he first had to fight for the company with investment funds that, he says, siphoned money off the firm. Since that time, the company has increased sales ten times, established a network of own plants in the Czech Republic, and acquired businesses in Germany and Russia.

At present, however, Brano is a typical “victim” of a the fall in demand for new cars. The company supplies the biggest car manufacturers for instance with hand brakes, pedal systems and door closing devices. Last year, production at Brano dropped by 30% and employees had to stay at home from 22 December to 5 January.

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