Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis Speaks in Chamber of Deputies


Trade Unions Seek Negotiations Over Civil Servant Raises

Andrej Babiš

Prague, June 12 (CTK) – The Czech government wants to increase the spending on salaries in the public sector by 10 percent, or 8.8 billion crowns, in 2019 and mainly raise the salaries of professions with low pay and those facing a shortage of staff, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told journalists today.


The state plans to spend 195.8 billion crowns on the salaries in 2019, compared to 177.9 billion crowns this year. A large part of the money will go to teachers.


Firefighters, police officers and clerks would receive a 6-percent pay rise next year.


Base salaries will show a 2-percent increase and in fact copy the inflation.


Babis said the rest of the money would be given to cultural institutions, social service and some offices whose employees had the lowest wages.


The trade unions today called for a 15-percent pay raise for teachers and a 10-percent pay raise for all the other employees in the public sector as of November. The union leaders complained that the government has not yet launched negotiations with them.


Babis criticised the protest meeting of the trade unions held this morning and he dismissed their demand. “The idea that the pay raise will be the same for all is absolute nonsense for us,” he said, adding that people would receive different salaries for different work.


Babis said the trade union communication seemed excessively aggressive to him.


Finance Minister Alena Schillerova (for ANO) said she can see no space of a further raising of salaries. The planned pay rise is based on the finances available in the budget, she said.


The healthcare unions claim that Babis promised them a 10-percent pay rise in May. In reaction, Babis said he supported their demand but did not make any promise.


Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) said trade unions should negotiate about wages with the employers and not “blackmail the prime minister and the health minister.”


In reaction, CMKOS umbrella union leader Josef Stredula said the employer of the people working in public services is usually the state, which is represented by the government.


In November 2017, the salaries in the public sector went up by 10 percent and those of teachers even by 15 percent. Medical workers had their pay raised by 10 percent in January.


Babis said the average monthly salary in the public sector would be 35,212 crowns, while five years ago the average salary was 23,657 crowns. This is a 61-percent increase over six years, or by about 10 percent a year, he added.


However, the considerable pay rise was decided by the former government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) which ruled the country in 2014-17.


According to data of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, 634,700 people were employed in the public sector last year. The average gross salary increased by 8.4 percent to 31,968 crowns a month.


In the first quarter of this year, the average monthly salary in the Czech Republic reached 30,265 crowns.


The Czech economy has been steadily growing for some time and the unemployment rate is very low. Many firms are tackling a lack of employees and they want the state to simplify the process of hiring foreign staff.


Babis said doctors from Ukraine who would like to work in the Czech Republic would be posted in hospitals that are lacking staff.


In April, Babis promised to terminate the project that tried to attract doctors from Ukraine in reaction to criticism by the Czech doctors, pharmacists and dentists’ chambers. But the regional authorities and heads of hospitals run by regions pushed through that the project would continue.


“The regions want doctors from Ukraine. The regime should be as follows: we tell the doctor where he will work because our staff do not want to be there,” Babis said today.


Even before, Ukrainian doctors occupied mostly positions which hospitals had problems to fill.


Two weeks ago, Babis and Vojtech declared that Ukrainian doctors will have to pass the same exams as other doctors from outside the European Union.


About 150 doctors who arrived from Ukraine within the project will have to pass this exam additionally, within 12 months.


Vojtech said the Czech healthcare sector cannot function without employees from abroad.


The worst situation is in the Usti, north Bohemia, and Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia, regions.


Other EU countries face the same problem. In Germany, for example, 50,000 nurses are needed.