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KDU-ČSL: Minimum wage cannot go steeply up anymore

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Prague, April 23 (CTK) – There is no space for “a dramatic increase” in the Czech minimum wage, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) told Prima TV today, in reaction to the trade unions demand that the minimum monthly wage be raised from 11,000 to 12,500 crowns.

“The minimum wage should not exceed a reasonable level. We have never identified with these trade union proposals,” Belobradek said.

He said the desired result is that wages go up naturally, thanks to a higher performance of the economy.

The idea that the minimum wage should be above the level of 40 percent of the average wage is nonsense, Belobradek said.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) recently said the minimum wage should be at the level of 40 percent of the average wage. The Confederation of Industry, which represents Czech employers, shared this opinion. In the last quarter of 2016, the average monthly wage was 29,320 crowns, and 40 percent of this is 11,728 crowns.

Right-wing opposition leader Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats, ODS) told Prima TV that the minimum wage and its raising discourages created a barrier impeding the employment of workers with the lowest qualification and it would not bring Czech salaries closer to the Western incomes anyway.

Fiala said the only way to raise wages is to lower taxes and insurance payments.

Sobotka said he wants to guarantee that the minimum wage would be at least 40 percent of the average wage. The coalition government of the CSSD, the ANO movement and the KDU-CSL pledged in its policy statement that the minimum wage would gradually get close to the 40 percent level. The government is to approve an increase in the minimum wage before the October general election.

In January 2017, the monthly minimum wage went up from 9,900 crowns to 11,000 crowns.

The Czech Chamber of Commerce and employers’ associations criticise model according to which the minimum wage is raised. They say clear rules need to be known so that companies can calculate the future increase and their increased costs.

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