Unions push for higher wages

  • 2011-05-04
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - Estonian police and rescue workers will demand a wage increase of at least eight percent as of next year, says Kalle Liivamagi, chairman of the public workers’ trade union association, reports Postimees. The increase would restore wages to the level earned before budget cuts in 2009, said the chairman.
Unions will also demand that all public workers get their wages raised back to the levels of 2008. The demands will be officially filed on May 18.

Estonian state-owned energy giant Eesti Energia’s mining arm, Eesti Energia Kaevandused, concluded a new collective labor agreement with the Estonian oil shale producers’ trade unions confederation for the next two years. The wages of workers who are paid for production units will be increased by 5 percent and the base wage of those paid according to work time by 11 percent.

These wage increase demands run counter to what Estonian Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi says, which is that people shouldn’t expect the public sector to keep all people who were hired during the economic boom on the payroll now. The state’s budgetary strategy for 2012-2015, which was approved last week by the government, prescribes that in the next four years, no growth in operating costs of state institutions should be expected.
Ligi said that this does not mean that all public sector wages would be frozen for the next few years. He said that the total payroll costs, though, cannot grow much.

The finance minister said that the state can get additional resources by increasing effectiveness. “One shouldn’t think that all people who were hired during the boom have to be kept at work,” Ligi said.
Recently the problem in some public sector institutions, like the police, is that employees voluntarily leave to work in the private sector. Ligi said that in the law enforcement structures the staff change rate is low and the people who are leaving go on to earn above Estonia’s average wage level.