In the Czech Republic, firefighters are equal to customs and police officers

The position of firefighters in the Czech Republic is equal to that of police or customs officers. They are part of the group of “uniformed forces” who enjoy a different/preferential treatment.  The average monthly salary of a firefighter is about 1 thousand 200 euros, the same as that of a police or customs officer. This information was shared by Zdenek Oberreiter of the Czech Trade Union of Firefighters, during a meeting with the delegation of the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo led by Haxhi Arifi, held at the House of Unions in Prague. 

“Our union was founded after the fall of communism and we recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of formation. We represent 6 thousand firefighters, who pay a membership fee equal to 1 percent of their salary. We return that contribution with legal advice when needed. In total, in the Czech Republic are about 10 thousand firefighters”, said the head of the Trade Union of Firefighters.

This union is represented in the main Czech confederation, which includes 380 thousand employees.

Its President said that they always give priority to dialogue to solve the workers’ problems. They have fought in order to make the position of firefighters comparable to that of police or customs officers. “Naturally, risky work should be compensated adequately, but on top of that we have managed to obtain retribution for overtime work”, said Oberreiter. 

Mr. Arifi stated that in Kosovo there are only about 600 firefighters – all of them work in the public sector. They don’t have their own union, but are part of the state administration and civil servants unions.

Firefighters in Kosovo have organized several protests demanding better working conditions, and compensation of risky and overtime work. They have significantly lower wages than that of customs or police officers in Kosovo.

Mr. Oberreiter added that there are about 140 thousand jobseekers in the Czech Republic. The unemployment rate is about 8 percent. “There are many jobs that no one wants to take. Some other fellow citizens are not interested in working at all”, he added. 

The government of the Czech Republic has negotiated with most unions to increase wages in 2016. Most unionists have called the wage increase (of 3 or 5 percent, depending on the sector) a triumph.   

This rise in wages is due to the growth of the Czech economy, expected to reach a level of 4.4 per cent by the end of this year – the highest among EU member states.

The Czech Republic has a GDP per capita of approximately 20 thousand dollars. It is a net exporter. Imports during 2014 have been equal to 135 billion dollars, while export were at a level of 147 billion dollars.

Visar Prebreza
Pristina, October 2015