May Day Rally: Trade Unions Demand Shorter Hours

Andrej Babiš, Czechia, Miloš Zeman

Bratislava/Zilina, Central Slovakia, May 1 (CTK) – The working hours should be shortened without any loss in salaries, Josef Stredula, chairman of the Czech CMKOS trade union umbrella, said at the joint Czech-Slovak May Day celebrations today.


The trade unions in the Czech Republic want to exert pressure on ending cheap labour because the past almost 30 years were enough for businesspeople to have reserves, sufficient profits and investments, Stredula said.


“We have the economies, both the Czech and Slovak, which are good. We have reached almost 90 percent of the EU average. But we only have 30 percent of EU salaries,” he added.


The rally was staged by the CMKOS and its Slovak partner, the KOZ trade union umbrella organisation.


Stredula said the minimum wage was also too low, although it was being gradually increased.


“I am not satisfied when seeing a German-owned firm, while in Germany there is the minimum salary of 1680 euros, but here only 480 euros. We do not work differently,” he added.


Stredula said the Czech and Slovak trade unions were planning a closer cooperation.


“Together, we are definitely stronger if we exchange the information on our employers, if we help each other, such as during protests,” Stredula said.


KOZ chairman Jozef Kollar said some employers were trying to prevent the establishment of trade unions in the companies.


“From this place, the message must be sent to all employers who are preventing the establishment of trade unions that we will denounce them,” Kollar said, who also favoured a faster growth in the minimum wage in Slovakia, now 480 euros a month.


Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-Social Democrats) said on the May Day celebrations that the party was for embedding the upper limit of age at retirement in the constitution.