Unions satisfied with new collective agreement in civil service
In October 2006, trade unions in the civil service concluded a new sectoral collective agreement for 2007. The unions have achieved less than they had initially demanded from the new government but do not intend to resort to protest action. Most of the agreed terms and conditions of employment remained as they were in the 2006 collective agreement. The pay rates of civil servants will increase, but only by 4% compared with the 8% increase proposed by the trade unions. Despite this development, the unions are generally satisfied with the outcome of the sectoral collective bargaining round.
Main results of bargaining round
On 25 October 2006, representatives of the new government and of the sectoral trade unions concluded the 2007 sectoral collective agreement for civil servants. The collective agreement is binding for all civil servants and for all public service offices in compliance with Act No. 312/2001 Coll. on Civil Service, as amended. There was less conflict in the bargaining round than in previous years since the new government, led by the social democratic party SMER, made some concessions for the trade unions compared with the previous government. Those concessions were, however, smaller than originally expected by the unions.
In all, the trade unions achieved far less than they had actually hoped for. Originally, they demanded an 8% pay increase for civil servants from 1 January 2007 onwards, as opposed to 1 July as was the case for pay increases in previous years. Further union demands were to increase the benefits for retiring civil servants to the amount of their bimonthly salary (instead of the usual monthly amount) and the employer’s additional contribution to the company social fund from at least 0.05 percentage points to 0.5 percentage points. In addition, the unions also wished to agree in collective agreements the amount of sickness benefit for civil servants.
As the union demands would represent an extraordinary increase of state budget resources for the civil service in 2007, the government did not agree with them. Instead, it argued in favour of introducing the euro by 1 January 2009, the deadline agreed to by the previous government; therefore, it claimed that it could not afford to increase the public deficit. The government also argued that it met the demands of trade unions by increasing the minimum wage by SKK 700 (about €20 as at 2 January 2007) and intended to accept some other requirements, such as preparing the new bill on tripartism.
Framework for local-level collective bargaining
According to the provisions of the 2007 sectoral collective agreement, it will be still possible in the company collective agreements:
- to reduce the standard weekly working hours by 2.5 hours;
- to extend paid holiday leave by one week;
- to increase civil servants’ benefit at retirement stage by one monthly salary above the level presently set by law.
In addition to the above, the level of employer contributions to the employee supplementary pension insurance fund and supplementary pension savings scheme remains unchanged for 2007 (SK0602101N).
The compulsory employer contribution to the social fund remains the same at 1% of the gross annual wages of all civil servants, but the additional contribution will be five times higher than in 2006, which corresponds to at least 0.25% from the total paybill per year. The pay rates of employees will increase by 4% from 1 July 2007, compared to 5% in 2006.
Moreover, it will be possible to agree in the company collective agreements on the following issues:
- relationships between civil service office management and local trade union organisations;
- the creation and use of the social fund and the amount of the employer contribution for staff catering;
- the actual level of bonuses provided to employees according to the law.
Margita Barošová, Institute for Labour and Family Research