No agreement on minimum price of labor

BELGRADE -- The Social Economic Council has not come to an agreement on the minimum price of labor for next year, Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Sunday.

"It means that the government will decide on it at one of its upcoming meetings," he told reporters after a meeting of the council.

The deadline for the council to agree on the price expires on Monday, he stated, adding that the government would decide at one of its future meetings what the minimum price of labor will be from January 1, 2015.

The trade unions and employers understand that the economic situation is not such that it is possible to meet all demands, and the government has to implement strict austerity measures, he stressed.

"The employers and trade unions have failed to reach an agreement. The Serbian government will do this according to law. Austerity is the government policy and it will be implemented on this decision," Vulin noted.

The Social Economic Council agreed on Sunday to form working groups that will establish the parameters that affect the minimum price of labor, which are required by the labor law, he stated.

Head of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Ljubisav Orbović said the unions proposed RSD 137.9 as the minimum price of labor based on the provisions of the labor law.

The employers did not agree to this, while government officials had no proposal to present at the council meeting, he pointed out.

Head of the United Trade Unions Independence Branislav Čanak said the failure in the negotiations on the minimum price of labout had shown that the recently adopted labor law had many unclear provisions.

"We claimed that when they changed the law without us. We pointed out the lack of clarity, and one of the objections was regarding the way the minimum price of labor is set. A month and a half after the law's adoption, it has been proven that it cannot function," Canak remarked.

Head of the Employers' Association of Serbia Nebojša Atanacković said the business community had maintained the view that the price of labor should not be altered at the moment, but added that they would accept the government decision should the price be raised.

The employers are willing to accept an increase up to RSD 120, which is about 5 percent more than the current minimum price of labor, Atanacković said.

The last increase in the minimum labor price, from RSD 102 to RSD 115, happened in 2012. The current minimum price without taxes is RSD 115 per hour.