Unions, employees at odds over minimum wage hike
The Estonian Employers' Confederation has rejected an offer from the Trade Union Confederation to increase the minimum wage in two years to 448 euros per month, gross.
Minimum wage, currently at 390 euros per month, was one of the hottest topics at the last election campaign, despite business and labor associations stressing the rate is not set by politicians, but by them.
Employers now rejected a plan to increase the monthly rate to 417 euros next year and 448 by 2017. The next talks will take place in two weeks.
“Sending a few tens of thousands of people home unemployed hoping they would study something new and return to the job market with higher qualifications simply does not work,” Toomas Tamsar, head of the employers' association, said, adding that the salary must remain in check with reality and Estonian companies need to remain competitive and be able to create jobs.
Most parties published their vision of the minimum salary before the elections, although the topic has remained quiet afterwards. The Center Party proposed a minimum wage of 1,000 euros per month, before income tax. The Social Democrats, now in power as part of a three-way coalition, proposed 800 euros. Other major parties proposed different measures, such as increasing the tax-free minimum level instead.
The rate has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2012 it was just 290 euros per month, increasing by 30 euros the next year, then by 35 euros in 2013 and 2014.