Pellegrini: I Want to Reduce Number of People Working for Minimum Wage

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (photo by TASR)

Zilina, May 1 (TASR) – I’ll try to make the number of people earning the minimum wage lower every year, stated Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) during Labour Day celebrations in Zilina on Tuesday, which were organised by Slovak and Czech trade unionists.

“This isn’t only a holiday marking Labour Day, but I’m glad that today’s May 1 is also the day when things that will improve the working conditions for people working in Slovakia are coming into force. The things we promised a year ago in Nitra and today, they are a reality,” said the premier, referring to the hikes in bonuses for working at night, at weekends and during holidays. All these changes are part of an amendment to the Labour Code that has come into force on May 1.

The Czech and Slovak unions in Zilina criticised the level of salaries which are significantly lower than salaries in western countries. Slovak Trade Union Confederation (KOZ) President Jozef Kollar pointed to the issue of lower salaries in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. “I know that this is not easy, but in any case, the productivity of Slovak workers is very high especially in foreign firms,” said Kollar, adding that only with pressure and collective bargaining can the Czechs and Slovaks slowly approach the salaries of other EU countries.

Pellegrini and Slovak trade unions further discussed the issue of retirement age caps, which is about to be negotiated by the tripartite (the Government, trade union and employers). The unions want people to retire at the age of 64 or 65. The premier noted that he would like to introduce retirement age caps within a constitutional law, so that “any political party won’t be able to change it after taking over power”.