Government to continue talks with unions
Skopje, 23 November 2023 (MIA) — The government's negotiating team will keep talking to union leaders to meet their demands as much as the budget allows, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski said in response to reporters' questions on recent protests organized by several trade unions demanding higher pay.
PM Kovachevski said previous talks had resulted in signing a new general collective agreement, 10-percent raises for public sector employees as well as a K-15 annual leave allowance for 2023.
Stressing that the team would continue meeting with union representatives, Kovachevski also noted that the K-15 annual leave allowance in 2024 would equal one third of the average salary, which is now over 37,000 denars.
The talks so far had also resulted, he said, in developing a new methodology for increasing the minimum wage. "Now we have the historically highest level of the minimum wage, which will rise to 22,500 denars in the first quarter of 2024," Kovachevski said, voicing his hope that the state would be able to meet the new demands of the unions as well.
"The right to strike is a guaranteed right," he continued. "It has always existed and of course the unions will continue to talk with governent representatives just as they have negotiated in the past."
Asked about the requests to reduce the salaries of officials, he said even if they were reduced, that money would not cover the unions' demands.
"For some of the officials, there are legal provisions that their salaries cannot be reduced. It is a complex solution, which at the end of the day should introduce fair remuneration according to the responsibilities that everyone has in the state," Kovachevski said.
"We were in a situation in which the President of the country had a lower salary than a secretary in the Electronic Communications Agency. This was also an imbalance, which should be appropriately addressed," the prime minister said.
Regarding announced walkouts by some institutions' staff, he said their salaries were paid with taxpayers' money so they should provide their services to the public.
"I hope that they will not paralyze the state, because people working in public administration provide services to those paying their salary, and the salary of people working in the public sector is paid by the citizens, who expect service," Kovachevski said.
"That's why the unions should also keep in mind they provide their services to those providing their financial resources, and those are the taxpayers," he added. mr/