The Serbian government’s Social and Economic Council, unions and the Serbian Association of Employers, have launched negotiations over the minimum wage for 2018. Labour leaders face an uphill battle, reports.

Serbia’s trade unions believe that the conditions are ripe for increasing the minimum wage, which does not even cover the cost of a basic consumer basket, while employers are conditioning a rise with a reduction of levies imposed on businesses.

The unions are asking that the minimum hourly wage be hiked from 130 dinars (€1.07) to 154 (€1.3), whereas the Association of Employers is offering a raise of about 8%, to roughly 140 dinars (€1.2), which the government agrees with.

The minimum wage for 2018 is to be defined by 15 September.

The Secretary General of the Association of Independent Unions of Serbia, Zoran Mihajlović, has said that the employers have put forward a term that the nontaxable portion of a salary, which currently amounts to 11,600 dinars (€87.50), be increased by 8%, and if the government rejects that proposal, they are offering a 3% raise of the minimum wage.

On 30 August, Mihajlović underscored that it was good that all three social partners had now agreed that the minimum wage should be raised, whereas previously employers had pointed out a lack of conditions for that move.

The minimum wage in Serbia over the past five years has increased by 15 dinars (€0.12) in total.

The minimum wage for 2017 increased by 7.5%, having totaled 121 dinars in 2016 and 2015.

The unions requested a raise to 143 dinars per hour for 2017, the employers offered 125-127 dinars, while the Social and Economic Council opted for middle ground in the form of the government’s proposal of 130 dinars.

Today, more than 350,000 labourers are working for a minimum monthly salary of 22,800 dinars, i.e. less than €200.