Implication des Syndicats dans le semestre européen
Trade Union Involvement in the EU Semester


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National Reports

EAKL considers positive that European Commission emphasises that there is a need for greater involvement of social partners and civil society in the process in order to secure public understanding and acceptance of the necessary reforms.
We as all trade unions are concerned that Commission is still linking wage developments with productivity developments. The problem is also mentioned in CSR for Estonia, where EC is worried about rather large increase in Unit Labour Costs in 2012 and 2013. Special attention is told to pay to the risks of wage growth exceeding productivity gains. There is no concrete recommendation to the Government to reform collective agreement systems or wage setting mechanisms. But Government prepared the new Collective Agreement and Collective Labour Relations draft Act, which is harmful for trade unions and instead of promoting collective labour relations makes it more difficult.

From the 5 recommendations 2 are partly directly targeted to labour market.
1. Improve incentives to work through measures targeted at low income earners. Target activation efforts at those most distant from the labour market, in particular by ensuring the timely adoption and implementation of the work capacity reform. - The reform is in preparation - EAKL has been informed and consulted. In general trade unions consider the reform necessary but EAKL, with The Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, made several proposals to make the reform more fulfilling the reform targets and giving more support for the people most distant from the labour market. The draft bill is in the Parliament.

2. To ensure the labour-market relevance of education and training systems, improve skills' and qualification levels by expanding life-long learning measures and systematically increasing participation in vocational education and training, including in apprenticeships.
EAKL took part in preparing the new Lifelong learning strategy for 20014 - 2020 where it was decided that Sector Skills Councils will in the future also be responsible for analysing the skills needs in the sector and coordinate the education and training for these sectors. Trade Unions shall be members of those Councils.

2015. aasta majanduskasvu analüüsis rõhtutatakse seekord reaalpalkade muutumist vastavalt tootlikkusele nii tööstusharu kui ka äriühingu tasandil. Eesti kontekstis on täna olukord, kus palgakasv on tootlikkuse kasvust kõrgem, kuid seda mõjutab üldine väga madal palgatase ning ka demograafiline olukord ja migratsioon. Analüüsis rõhutatakse ka, et riigid peavad võtma meetmeid ajude väljavoolu vastu. Kiirem palgakasv on meie regioonis seejuures oluliseks tingimuseks. Palgakasvu piiramise asemel on tähtis tootlikkuse oluline tõstmine, mis vajab aga investeeringuid ning tarka majanduspoliitikat. Seekord komisjon veel Eestit õnneks oma tasakaalustamatuse raportis välja ei too.
Hea, et dokumendis rõhutatakse nõutavate reformide ettevalmistamisel sotsiaalpartnerite laiema kaasamise vajadust.

2015 Annual Growth Survey rõhtutatakse (word misspelled) this time, the change in real wages with productivity, both industry and company level.
Estonia in the context of the present situation wages are higher than the growth in productivity but the overall wage level is very low, and it affects demography and migration. The analysis also emphasizes that states must take steps against brain drain. Higher wage growth in our region remains an important condition. Wage growth restriction in place is an important argument to raise the importance of productivity, which, however, needs stronger investments and economic policy.
This time, fortunately, Estonia Commission does not appear in the imbalance report anymore.
The good, the paper highlights the reforms required for the preparation of a broader involvement of the social partners.

• Analysis of the Country report concerning impact on collective bargaining and wages
Estonian country report does not include points on collective bargaining, but emphasis that the significant increases in the minimum wage should be seen against the backdrop of a low minimum wage starting level compared to average gross monthly earnings. With two increases in minimum wage in 2014 and 2015, each of about 10 %, Estonia has made some progress in response to the recommendation to improve incentives to work for low-income earners. However, the tax wedge of low-income earners is still relatively high and the basic personal income tax allowance remains low for a country with a flat tax system, especially in a context of rapid wage increases.
EAKL is pleased with the Commissions’ wording; it backs very well our aims in the debates about minimum wage and the basic personal income tax allowance.
• Analysis of the Country Reports concerning labour market and labour reforms
Also on labour market and labour reforms the country report EAKL considers the Commission points out relevant issues like that Estonia has the highest gender pay gap in the EU (30 % in 2012,
unadjusted), and a high impact of parenthood on women’s employment, the unemployment rate of young people (15-24) in autumn 2014 was at 13.4 % and what EAKL considers very important - the increasing number of people receiving an incapacity pension also raises the issue of prevention through occupational health and safety.
Again, we are pleased with the Commissions wording.

• Key political messages to be delivered at EU level
EAKL is looking forward that the Commissions guidelines appoint all these shortcomings we have in our labour market and demand government to implement relevant policies. ETUC should deliver at EU level the demand to promote more actual social dialogue at national level.

Country specific recommendations for Estonia correspond to the current situation. From three recommendations one concerns situation of low wage earners and pay gap.
In CSR European Commission recommends that Estonia should improve incentives to work through measures targeting low-income earners. It is the result of the problems, brought out in the country report, where it says that incentives to work have been a challenge for Estonia, notably due to the tax wedge of low income earners, which is high as compared with other EU countries. This may reduce work incentives and hamper job creation for low-skilled workers, as well as encourage informal employment. Moreover, until 2013, the minimum wage growth also lagged somewhat behind the average wage growth. As a result, Estonia is one of the few EU countries where a full-time worker earning the minimum wage still has an income lower than the relative poverty line. As the minimum wage is 390 € per month in 2015, it is still very low compared with relative poverty line 358 € in 2013. We in trade union understand that there should be increase in minimum wage and tax relief for low-income earners. As the pay gap is ca 30% in Estonia, the recommendation to take action to narrow the gender pay gap is welcome too.
In country report there was notification that sustained labour costs increases (more than 9% nominal unit wage cost increase over 3 years) deserve close monitoring because of core inflation remaining over 1% and because it may come at the expense of external competitiveness, there is no recommendation on that issue. It is good, because in our labour market there is pressure to increase wages because the shortage of employees and also the influence of big wage level differences between our and neighbouring counties labour market, but especially to rise substantially the minimum wage.