Slovakia: Latest working life developments Q4 2018

Establishment of a new national-level trade union and significant changes in the remuneration of employees in the public sector are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovakia in the fourth quarter of 2018.

New national trade union established

Since 1990, two national-level trade unions have been operating in Slovakia: the Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (KOZ SR) and the Independent Christian Trade Unions of Slovakia (NKOS). KOZ SR is the larger of the two, with about 90% affiliated trade unionists in the country, and it also represents the trade unions at the national-level tripartite Economic and Social Council (HSR). After the internal restructuring of KOZ SR in 2008–2010, some trade unionists left the associations affiliated with KOZ SR and established new trade union organisations.

  • The New Education Union (NSO) and the Trade Union Association of Nurses and Midwifes (OZSaPA) were established in 2012.
  • The New Police Trade Union (NOZP) was established in 2015.
  • Some trade unionists from the local metal union OZ Kovo at Volkswagen Slovakia in Bratislava established the Modern Trade Union Volkswagen (MOV) in 2016.
  • The Modern Trade Union AIOS (covering the automotive, information, commerce and service sectors) was established in 2017.

These trade union organisations operated independently without affiliation to any umbrella organisation at national level. They also did not conclude any sector-related multi-employer collective agreements.

After consultations about a possible cooperation, the five trade unions decided to establish an umbrella organisation called the Joint Trade Unions of Slovakia (SOS) on 24 October 2018. Currently, the SOS is represented collectively by the chairs of the affiliated trade unions. The organisation aims to improve the working conditions, wages and employment conditions of employees through bipartite or tripartite social dialogue, either directly or via the member trade unions.

Higher salaries for public sector employees

The long-term discussion between the government and social partners regarding remuneration in the public sector resulted in significant amendments to the related legislation in the last quarter of 2018. The changes in the remuneration system concerned salary scales and grades, description of work activities and the accompanying salary rates for public servants, civil servants and regional governments. The changes were introduced through amendments to the concerned acts, which entered into effect on 1 January 2019.

In terms of public servants for example, amendments to the act fundamentally changed monthly pay rates, taking into account the new salary scales and grades. The previous 14 scales were reduced to 11 (taking into account the required qualification requirements), while the number of salary grades increased from 12 to 14 (with the top grade increasing to 40 or more years). Another important change was that the lowest basic salary rate now equals the monthly minimum wage. Modifications were also made to the catalogues of work-related activities that largely involved mental or physical work.

Following these changes, the government and the trade unions concluded a multi-employer collective bargaining agreement for public servants for 2019–2020 on 28 November 2018. The agreement included 10% salary rate increases from 1 January in both 2019 and 2020, and these increases were implemented by decrees approved by the government on 12 December.

Commentary

According to the criteria, social partners must represent at least 100,000 employees in order to participate in national tripartite social dialogue through the Economic and Social Council (HSR). The number of trade unionists covered by the SOS was about 28,000 by the end of 2018. However, the SOS expects its membership to increase during 2019.

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