Estonian unions want to link pay with qualifications

  • 2006-08-16
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - In addition to a rise in the minimum wage, trade unions are also planning to link pay with qualification during upcoming talks with employers in the first half of September.

Harri Taliga, head of the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions, told the daily Postimees that it had already been decided last year that, in addition to the minimum wage, the issue of labor qualification would be raised due to the shortage of skilled labor.
"It is our interest that wages depend on qualification," Taliga said. "We have said several times that a national occupational system has no sense if certain pay terms do not go along with skills."

Tarmo Kriis, head of the Estonian Employers' Confederation, said it was still too early to say how employers would react. He said the neither the trade unions nor the confederation could interfere with pay systems of every economic sector or company. Kriis said that pay based on qualification should rather be left to the employee and employer to decide.
Taliga said it was their firm's wish to raise the minimum wage to at least 3,600 's 3,700 kroons (230 's 236 euros), though to decide the final sum the two sides would have to wait for the Finance Ministry's economic growth forecast, which should be released on Aug. 21. According to Eurostat, the only countries with a minimum wage lower than Estonia are Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Taliga said it was the trade unions' wish that people should not be paid according to the absolute minimum established by the state but according to a sector pay agreement. Very few such agreements have been signed in Estonia, he added.