Visegrad trade unions call for higher wages

Statement

Meeting of trade union leaders of the Visegrad countries

Budapest, 10-11 May 2018

Trade union confederation leaders of the Visegrad countries, CMKOS, ÉSZT, Liga Szakszervezetek, MASZSZ, Munkástanácsok, SZEF, Forum, OPZZ, Solidarnosc, KOZ SR, at their annual meeting in Budapest (May 10-11, 2018) reviewed the economic, social and employment situation of the V4 countries, with particular regard to labor market, wage and income issues. According to traditions the meeting was attended by representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

The participants of the meeting stressed the need for concrete steps to keep the workforce in their countries and in order to eliminate the significant wage gap. Unions are of the opinion that there is a possibility to reduce the East-West pay gap, based on realistic assessment, and on the real performance of national economies. They welcomed that the 2018 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) also emphasizes the importance of increasing real incomes and reducing inequalities.

They stressed that wages should not be excluded from the coordination of the functioning of the EU single market, social policy co-ordination of Community law. The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) aims at this direction, while hard regulation would be needed both at European and national levels to realise real living standards convergence and to prevent social dumping import. Therefore, in the implementation phase of the EPSR trade unions expect substantial measures by the national governments, and the European institutions, based on the 2012 Employment Package. Trade unions consider the principle No.6 of the Pillar “Workers have the right to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living” and the aim that minimum wages reach 60% of median, or 50% of the average wage, depending on which of these values are more beneficial for workers, as of major importance. Trade unions consider the establishment of a European minimum wage instrument could lead to an upward wage convergence and strenghten the fight against poverty and social dumping. Wages in private and public sector must develop in a positive convergence way to ensure quality public services. Income situations causing emigration including that of the best educated young people must be prevented.

Trade Unions of the V4 countries support the initiative of the ETUC to launch a European Alliance for Upward Wage Convergence with the aim of all Europeans benefiting fair distribution of income and wealth produced in Europe and the catching up of those lagging behind. By this the promise of the single market and the monetary union could be significantly supported. This is what workers and citizens of the Visegrád countries expect, and this can only prevent the anti-Europe sentiments, populism, and the extreme right. Trade unions deem it important that employers’ organizations, governments and international companies join this coalition with substantive action. Trade unions are ready to engage in meaningful serious, tangible results oriented collective bargaining,  social dialogue and tripartite partnership and invite their partners to this end.

The trade unions of the V4 countries initiate negotiations in their countries in order to implement in practice the European Pillar of Social Rights aiming at making it a successful program project both at national and EU level. To this end, unions deem it essential that concrete measures be taken to enforce the democratic conditions in the world of work and in realising social rights, as well as to ensure well-functioning labor relations. Effective functioning of social dialogue, tripartism and collective bargaining based on real involvement and commitments of all parties are basic condition for this. Restoration of genuine tripartite negotiation framework is essential in countries where social partners are excluded.