The minimum wage must meet the real cost of living

A group of 18 non-governmental organizations and the United trade unions of Serbia “Sloga” sent a letter to the Government, competent ministries and the Union of Serbian Employers, in which they state that minimum wages must meet the real costs of living and provide workers with a dignified life, as well as that amount of minimum wage should be discussed and determined twice a year . They believe that the announced increase in the minimum wage of 14 per cent, along with an increase in the non-taxable part of the wage, is neither sufficient nor an adequate measure relative to the situation in which Serbian society finds itself today. The letter states that those organizations are active in the fight against poverty and respect for the economic and social rights of workers and that they are therefore addressing the authorities regarding the ongoing negotiations on the minimum wage, reports Tanjug. They state that rising inflation has made it even more difficult for a large number of people, especially those with the lowest incomes, to satisfy their basic existential needs.

They remind that during last year’s negotiations on the minimum labor price, the unions demanded that the minimum wage for 2022 be increased by 20 percent and thereby be equal to the minimum basket of goods, which at that time amounted to 39,000 dinars.

“Even though it was agreed in 2018 that the minimum wage will cover the minimum basket of goods, that still hasn’t happened. Last September, the Government of Serbia made a decision to increase the minimum wage by only 9.4 percent, leaving the monthly minimum wage at only 35,000 dinars on average per month for a full-time employee. They also point out that in the meantime inflation has heated up and prices have risen, as well as that part of the increase in the minimum labour price of 9.4 per cent was cancelled by inflation even before it came into force, in the last quarter of 2021.

They note that the poor, as always, are the first to be hit by the crisis and that they spend the largest part of their income on food, and that the price of food has so far risen by more than 20 per cent.

They also claim that the minimum basket of goods is not an adequate measure of the cost of living in Serbia, since it is determined on the basis of a survey and only shows the consumption of 30 per cent of the poorest households in Serbia.

Namely, according to the current calculation, it implies that a family of three has only 660 dinars available for food per day. It also implies that a three-member family has 128 dinars per month for education and 1,500 dinars for healthcare costs. Therefore, as stated, the minimum consumer basket must not be the starting point for determining the minimum labour price.

This post is also available in: Italiano

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