more needs to be done to stop wages falling behind inflation and to ensure decent wages

As prices continue to climb across Europe, driven by high energy and food costs, tackling the biting cost-of-living crisis is a pressing concern for trade unions.

The Slovak metal workers’ union OZ KOVO has carried out a comprehensive survey among 1,130 employees and their families to map their ability to pay daily expenses. Like everywhere in Europe, standards of living are falling in Slovakia because of rising inflation, especially among socially disadvantaged groups of the population. Reduced demand from workers also affects the economic development in the Slovak Republic.

Respondents of the survey were asked about their expenses for everyday goods and services, as well as income needed to ensure a decent standard of living. The survey found that households spend most of their money on food, housing, loan repayments and transport and the least on recreation and culture. As many as 40% of households in the survey spend nothing on the latter.

To ensure a decent standard of living, OZ KOVO found that households needed at least the following net amounts per month:

Persons in the household    Net income needed
          1                                           €1,784
          2                                           €2,756
          3                                           €3,086
          4                                           €3,542

The income needed is in stark contrast to the legal minimum wage! The minimum wage currently stands at €700 per month, having just been increased by 8%. This increase was badly needed, but the current level fails to ensure a reasonable standard of living, according to the OZ KOVO survey.

Tensions are rising in the country. One way forward is to push for a further increase of the minimum wage and benefits, which would ensure the growth of average pay. Another is to promote a favourable environment for collective bargaining, especially at sectoral level, to ensure fair and inclusive wages.

IndustriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary, Isabelle Barthès, stresses:

“It should be self-evident that wages ensure a decent standard of living and prevent in-work poverty. Social partners and authorities in Slovakia must therefore take urgent action to offset the rise in prices and ensure decent living standards.

“We are hopeful that recent EU initiatives on minimum wages, social dialogue and collective bargaining help create a climate of cooperation and strengthen the capacities of social partners to act. The recent agreement between Slovak social partners is certainly a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to stop wages falling behind inflation and to ensure decent wages. This cannot wait!”

Trade unions across Europe are gearing up to address the current cost-of-living crisis in their upcoming collective bargaining rounds. Together, this autumn, trade unions affiliated to industriAll Europe will campaign for higher wages.

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication), Erlend Hansen (collective bargaining policy adviser)