Salaries lagging behind company profits

Serbian companies were generally profitable last year. Their financial statements showed a profit 2.3 times higher than a year ago, amounting to 437.2 billion dinars. In the same period, the average salary in Serbia, namely the salaries of employees who contributed to these profits, went up only by RSD 1,800, from 46,097 to 47,893 dinars, or 4.4%.

Although, if by some miracle the companies’ profits were to be distributed to all employees in Serbia, each of them would get 220,000 dinars.

However, the newest statistical data shows that the average salary in February did not go up at all compared to the previous month.

At the same time, the unemployment rate is also on a decline in Serbia. The companies that submitted their financial reports employed 34,456 new workers last year.

“The data on companies’ profit data is cumulative, and we really don’t know at the moment whether it covers only a certain group of companies”, says economy expert, Ivan Nikolic. “This does not necessarily mean that the profit is evenly distributed. Certainly, unemployment has fallen and these are favourable trends that result in higher profits. Whether they want it or not, employers will have to pay out higher salaries. It is true that lower unemployment is partly due to unfavuorable trends, such as low birth rates and a large migration of Serbian citizens”, Nikolic adds.

Trade unions will insist on higher salaries, and both the Nezavisnost Trade Unions and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions are calling for protests for the International Labour Day.

“Yes, the profit is there, but we should not forget that almost a half a billion euros annually leave our country with foreign investors”, says Dusko Vukovic, vice president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions.

“It is, therefore, necessary for employers not to renounce this part of their profit, but rather for that profit to spill over so that workers in Serbia can have dignified wages which, in turn, would be a motivation for them to work better. The burden of transition, which has been going on for 30 years in Serbia, should be transferred from workers to employers. We will petition for an increase of the minimum wage to fit the costs of the minimal consumer basket, but also for an increase in salaries between 15 to 20 percent. The minimal consumer basket is 11,000 dinars higher than the minimum wage, and while the average consumer basket is 20,000 dinars higher than the average salary. You cannot build future on this. This country will turn into a geographical spot, without population and without employees”, Vukovic added.

(Vecernje Novosti, 26.04.2018)

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