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Unions demand 10-percent pay rise in public sector in Sept

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Prague, April 26 (CTK) – The public sector employees’ trade unions demand a 10-percent rise in the salaries of teachers, health care workers, culture facilities’ employees and clerks as of September, CMKOS Czech umbrella trade union organisation chairman Josef Stredula said yesterday.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) tweeted that the government was prepared to raise the salaries as of January 2018.

Further talks between the government and trade unions will take place in June at the latest, with representatives of the other two coalition parties, the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), attending.

“I am convinced that the pay rise must reflect the situation in the labour market. The situation in the social and healthcare services and at labour and tax offices is not easy at all. The state has problems to find employees. Salaries should motivate people,” Sobotka said.

“Our government has already raised the public sector pay three times. We want to increase the salaries of firefighters, nurses, doctors, teachers, police and social service workers as of January 1, 2018,” Sobotka tweeted.

The coalition government was appointed in January 2014 and its term expires this autumn.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) tweeted a month ago that the government had approved a 10-percent pay rise for police, firefighters, customs officers and prison guards as of July.

The health care personnel’s salaries increased in January, also by 10 percent, while the salaries of teachers and of other public sector employees rose in September and November 2016, respectively, last time.

Sobotka said he also supported Education Minister Katerina Valachova’s (CSSD) demand for a 10-percent rise in teachers’ salaries and a rise in doctors and nurses’ salaries by 10 percent, for a third time in a row.

However, the trade unions want the pay of all public sector employees to rise by 10 percent as of September.

Stredula pointed to the state budget surplus of 62 million crowns that the government would like to use for investments.

“The best is to invest in own employees. If someone wants to manage the state like a firm, I hope that he will support this demand,” he said, hinting at the words by Finance Minister and billionaire businessman Andrej Babis (ANO).

Deputy PM Babis said he reckoned with a rise in the public sector employees’ salaries. However, it depends on the state budget development whether they will be raised in September or in January 2018, he told reporters.

Preferentially, the employees with the lowest salaries should have them increased, Babis said.

This means that in the police, newcomers and rank-and-file police would get higher salaries, but not the General Inspection of Security Corps’ (GIBS) employees.

However, Babis said he did not support an across-the-board pay rise.

He also admitted a possible rise in the minimum wage since it would apply to private firms and not the state, he said.

($1=24.580 crowns)

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