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ISSUE 62 page 5

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Czech unions agree transport, minimum wage deals but women left behind
 TRADE UNIONS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC HAVE HAD some recent success in negotiations with both the government and employers but their more long-term efforts do not appear to have had much of an impact on the gender pay gap in the country. Unions in the transport sector have concluded deals with both Czech Airlines (ČSA) and Czech Railways (ČD). Both companies have been making losses in recent years and ČSA are to sell 44% of their shares to Korean Air so job preservation was the main concern and redundancies were prevented. However the nine railway unions managed to gain a small pay rise of 1.8%. The vice-chair of  Railway Trade Union OSŽ cautioned that ‘our bargaining position was not easy at all. Moreover, we had to be careful and avoid the situation where excessive demands on our side could result in dismissals’. On another front, negotiators made headway on an uprating of the minimum wage which has not been increased in the Czech Republic since 2007. It is now the lowest in the EU as a percentage of average wages (see graph). The ČMKOS federation has submitted a claim for a rise of 1,000 crowns to 9,000 (£300) per month but has accepted the offer of the Labour ministry of 600 crowns. This has yet to get past the finance minister however who opposes the proposal. It is thought that



% difference between average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees, 2011

about 100,000 Czech workers are on the minimum wage and union leader Bohumir Dufek said that he will also demand that this be raised by, at least, half of the previous year's inflation every 12 months.
The Czechs are also near the bottom of the league when it comes to the gender pay gap. Only Estonia, Austria and Germany record larger figures than the 20.3% less that women earned, on average, compared to men in 2011. Although the position has improved in recent years the pace is very slow; the percentage having only decreased by 6 since 2000. The reasons are familiar: the gap is greatest for employees between the ages of 35 and 44 when, typically, women curtail their hours or take a career break due to childcare responsibilities. The finance and insurance sector, which includes some of the highest salaries, also shows the widest gap at 43.2% (the highest in the EU) while in catering and transport the difference is under 10%, but these are also the sectors with some of the lowest wages overall.





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