TALLINN - Speaking at the opening of the 8th congress of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL) on Friday, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik voiced his pleasure over a good start of cooperation with the social partners and said that the government, unions and employers regularly meeting at a common table enables to discuss matters that are important for the participants in the labor market.
The minister voiced appreciation of unions' consistent contribution to standing for the rights of employees and making an input when it comes to developments of the labor market, spokespeople for the Ministry of Social Affairs said.
"I hope that unions and employers will reach agreement on the minimum wage as well. In doing it we must not forget that the minimum wage in Estonia is significantly lower measured as a ratio to the cost of living than in many other EU member states. We need to put in more effort to catch up with the countries that we consider as examples to ourselves in economic and social terms. It's important for the minimum wage to rise consistently and enable dignified coping also in Estonia. I support our tradition of establishing the minimum rate of remuneration for work where the parties to the labor market agree it among themselves," the minister said.
Before the congress, Kiik met with Luca Visentini, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). At the meeting an idea of the European Commission's new president Ursula von der Leyen for a Europe-wide framework for minimum wage that would ensure a dignified living standard in all EU member states was talked about. The expectation was voiced that with the new Commission's stepping into office a bigger contribution still will be made on the level of the EU to the spheres related to people's wellbeing and importance attached to the role of the social sphere in increasing competitiveness.
In addition, the parties to the meeting contended that the role of unions as supporters of cohesion of the society definitely is important. Therefore the traditions of collective negotiations have to be valued and the protection of workers' rights cherished.
For that, the minister wished success to EAKL leader Peep Peterson, who was elected for a new term in the office on Friday.