Kallas: SDE wanted to remove unions from minimum wage talks

Lauri Läänemets and Kaja Kallas.
Lauri Läänemets and Kaja Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Candidate for PM Kaja Kallas said on Vikerraadio's "Stuudios on peaminister" talk show that Social Democrats' leader Lauri Läänemets' statement, according to which his party will not back tax reform if the minimum wage is not hiked, took her by surprise. Kallas suggested she hopes the new coalition is not running out of steam already.

Head of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Lauri Läänemets said on Tuesday that if employers refuse to go along with the coalition's promise of hiking the minimum salary, a bigger minimum wage should be laid down by the government. He added that if the minimum wage fails to grow at the prescribed pace, Estonia cannot return to a flat exemption rate, meaning that SDE cannot support abolishing the current gradual exemption in the Riigikogu, which is among Reform's chief election promises.

"We heard such ultimatums during talks, while it was made clear these things are not connected. That they are two different things. Läänemets tying these things together now came as a bad surprise," Kallas told Vikerraadio.

"We have three-way talks between unions, employers and the government at which the minimum wage is decided. And it also took me by surprise that the Social Democrats wanted to strip the unions of their role and fix the minimum salary on the level of legislation. But we disagreed. Those three-way talks are a value. That is also how these things are done in the Nordics," Kallas said.

"That is why we agreed that we will try to nudge that agreement [in the right direction] already come May. But because there are three sides involved, we cannot very well promise everyone will go for it," the incoming PM said, adding that while there have been initial consultations, the government, employers and trade unions will have to agree at the end of the day.

Kallas said that coalition negotiations were constructive and there was close cooperation. "It was an atmosphere of cooperation in the room. I very much hope this is not about to change," Kallas said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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