The salaries of many employees in education are less than the minimum salary, and in ten years the rest of the employees in the sector could find themselves in the same position, explained Dušan Kokot, president of the Independent Trade Union of Teachers of Vojvodina, at the press conference. Namely, the salary of employees in education is calculated as a product of the basic salary and the coefficient, increased by salary supplements. The coefficient (should) express “job complexity, responsibility, working conditions, and education”, but the basic wage is so small that the lowest six categories include numerous employees: from manual workers to employees who finished high school.
How does that work in practice? According to the Law on Salaries in State Bodies and Public Services, the salary of an employee with the lowest coefficient is the base product of roughly 30€ and the coefficient of 5.99, which sums up to roughly 200€ in 2022, while the (average monthly) minimum salary is around 300€.
“How and in what way the state violates its own laws and contracts jobs below the minimum wage in education, is a question that representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the relevant ministry should answer,” said Kokot. According to Kokot, the Government – which determines both the base and the coefficients, and in practice the minimum wage – is omnipotent on the matter.
Kokot pointed out that employees who belong to the lower categories have received salaries below the legal minimum for 12 years. He also reminded of the fact that the minimum wage must not and should not be the norm; instead, the lowest salary is by law received in emergency conditions and no longer than six months.
According to the presented calculation, a manual worker working in an educational institution should receive less than two-thirds of the minimum. According to Kokot, these employees still get paid salaries in the amount of the legal minimum, but that does not make their position much better, and creates new problems, injustices and illegalities instead. One of the problems is the fact that “correction to the amount of minimum wage” is an illegal solution. In addition, equalizing the six categories with the lowest incomes renders the coefficients, i.e. the differences in the type of work and education between these categories, meaningless.
The main reason for the illegal calculation of salaries in education lies in the fact that salaries in education are increasingly lagging behind the minimum wage, according to the Independent Trade Union of Teachers of Vojvodina. For those receiving the minimum wage, incomes grow at a higher rate (9.4% in 2022) than in higher categories. In other words, the salaries of employees in higher categories are relatively reduced compared to the lower ones, which is why salaries in higher categories could soon also fall below the minimum wage. If the base wage was such that the salary of the lowest category reached the minimum, a professor in a high school would earn around 900€, while the same professor today has a basic salary of 565€. Everyone loses. In ten or twelve years, we will be in a position where everyone in education works for the minimum salary:
“And then the question arises what kind of education can we expect, what kind of educational results can we expect and what kind of society do we want to create,” Kokot asked. As he emphasized, the described situation leads to a large number of labour disputes.
Lawyer Danijel Dinčić, and Ana Dimitrijević, vice president of the Forum of Belgrade Gymnasiums, also spoke at the press conference held on May 4 in the premises of the Association of Journalists of Serbia. Dinčić explained that he spoke about problematic legal solutions and the court practice that refers to them, while Dimitrijević focused on the fact that employees in educational institutions in Belgrade cannot exercise the right to compensation for transport, but are forced to exercise it in the form of compensation for a privately-owned system of pay for public transport (Busplus), regardless of which means of transport they actually use.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Serbian on May 4, 2022.