Pay increase agreed for public sector in 2008

In January 2008, the new sectoral collective agreements for civil servants and public servants entered into effect. Employment conditions provided for in these agreements are similar to those agreed for in 2007. However, employees’ pay rates and annual salaries differ. From 1 January, basic pay for civil servants will increase by 3% and for public servants by 4%. In previous collective agreements, agreed pay increases entered into effect on 1 July of the calendar year.

Employee and employer representatives in the public sector concluded two sectoral collective agreements for 2008. The collective agreement for civil servants – people employed in the various government departments – was concluded by representatives of the Confederation of Trade Unions (Konfederácia odborových zväzov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR), the Independent Christian Trade Unions (Nezávislé kresťanské odbory Slovenska, NKOS) and the General Free Trade Union Association (Všeobecný slobodný odborový zväz, VSOZ), along with the ministers of finance, of interior and of labour, social affairs and family. The collective agreement for public servants – people employed by the state under a public-law relationship such as teachers, nurses or the police force – was concluded by the same trade union representatives, with five government ministers, the President of the Association of Municipalities of Slovakia (Združenie miest a obcí Slovenska, ZMOS) and the chairs of eight regional self-governments. Both collective agreements entered into effect on 1 January 2008.

Employment and working conditions unchanged

The following employment and working conditions were unchanged as part of the collective agreements for civil servants and public servants for 2008:

  • a standard working time of 37.5 hours a week in single shift work;
  • a minimum of five weeks’ annual leave;
  • an employers’ contribution to employees’ supplementary pension scheme amounting to a minimum of 2% of the total annual paybill
  • employers’ contributions to the social fund totalling 1% of the total annual paybill – an additional 0.25% increase, at least, can be agreed in company-level collective agreements.

According to the sectoral collective agreements, it is possible to agree on different issues as part of company-level collective bargaining.

  • In civil service organisations, it is possible to agree on:
    • higher contributions to the social fund and their usage for employees’ welfare
    • the level of bonuses paid to employees
    • relationships between the civil service office and the local trade union organisation.
  • In public service organisations, it is possible to agree on a rate of sickness pay higher than the minimum level set up by the law.

These provisions are, except for the increase of sickness pay, the same as those agreed in the collective agreements for 2007 (SK0705029I).

Differences in salary growth

In 2008, the basic scale of pay tariffs of civil servants increased by 3%. In the collective agreement for 2007, however, the agreed increase was 4%. It seems that the pay increase agreed for 2008 is lower than in the previous year. However, the annual salary of civil servants in 2008 will be 1.5 times higher than in 2007. According to the collective agreement for 2008, the increased pay rates became effective as of 1 January 2008, and not from 1 July as in previous years. As a consequence, employees will have a higher salary overall for the year, instead of for only six months as defined in previous collective agreements. This meant that the annual salary of civil servants in previous years had really only increased by half of the agreed level – for example, by 2% in 2007 compared with the agreed increase of 4%.

In the sectoral collective agreement for public servants, it was agreed to increase the basic scale of pay tariffs by 4% from 1 January 2008. Despite 5%–7% growth of pay tariffs agreed in the previous collective agreement effective from 1 July 2007, reflecting an actual annual salary increase of only 2.5%–3.5%, the annual salary of public servants will be higher in 2008 than in 2007.

Commentary

Wages in the public sector are still lagging behind those in the private sector. Good news for public employees was that the promise of an earlier start date for the pay increase, as indicated in the memo attached to the sectoral collective agreements for 2007, was effectively kept by representatives of the state. As expected, the pay increase demanded much higher financial resources than in previous years from the 2008 state budget.

Ludovít Cziria, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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