MfD: One in five working Czechs lives in poverty

Money counter. Photo: Czech National Bank
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Working poor are only slightly more satisfied than unemployed

Prague, May 14 (ČTK) — Eighteen percent of working Czechs live in poverty since their low pay hardly suffices for their subsistence, which is 1 percent more than the EU average, the daily Mlada frontá Dnes (MfD) writes today, referring to the Czech Statistical Office's (ČSÚ) data.

Some professions are the most threatened with poverty, primarily unqualified workers, such as cashiers in supermarkets, cleaning ladies and employers of security agencies whose monthly gross pay is under 14,500 Kč, MfD writes.

It says the working poor, whose incomes fall below a given poverty line, are only slightly more satisfied than the unemployed and they view their future even more pessimistically, shows a poll on the living standards and people's satisfaction, conducted by the Median agency on 15,000 respondents.

It has confirmed a clear connection between the income level and well-being. In other words, the quality of life is rising proportionally to the pay level, MfD says.

People with high salaries are more satisfied not only with their living standards but also with their health and private relations, and they enjoy their work more than the others, according to the poll.

On the other hand, the working poor are most often not satisfied with their lives.

The poll shows, for example, that only 30 percent of them practice some sport at least once a month, compared to 54 percent of people with above-average salaries. The working poor are also less interested in politics and if they are, they support the left. They reject the right-wing idea that people should primarily secure their old age living alone, MfD writes.

Sociologist Jan Keller points out that the working poor are also entitled to a number of welfare payments to which others contribute with their taxes and thus they actually "indirectly sponsor" their employers.

A number of job opportunities have been transferred to the countries with a cheap labor force outside Europe and the pressure of the unemployed on the labor market is worsening the conditions of those who already have jobs, Keller points out.

The offer of the labor force is higher than demand, which is pushing the price of work down, statistician Dalibor Holý, from the CSU, said in MfD.

Another negative phenomenon is the rise in part-time jobs and fixed-time employment contracts at the expense of jobs with a long-term perspective, which increases the working people's uncertainty, MfD writes.

It cites the example of an average Czech shop-assistant who earns some 13,000 Kč a month before taxation, must work weekends and on holidays and their overtime is often unpaid.

The paper adds that the working poor sometimes earn even less than the unemployed get in welfare, which is frustrating for them.

This is also why the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has prepared a 2014-20 strategy of social inclusion to improve the situation of those threatened with poverty.

The paper recalls that last year the minimal wage, which 3 percent or over 100,000 working people earn in the Czech Republic, was raised for the first time in six years, by 500 crowns to 8,500.

Both Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, ČSSD) and President Miloš Zeman support a gradual rise in the minimum wage, to 10,000 Kč by 2018.

On the other hand, psychologists argue that even a low-paid job is better than being jobless and doing nothing at all since the working poor at least do not lose their work routines and contacts with other people and they might be able to find a better job in the future, MfD writes.


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