"We consider that once we have restored salary cuts, after having rescheduled our jobs and thawed our careers, it is time for civil servants to also have the normality that any worker should have to pay the salaries on an annual basis , in particular because of inflation, "said António Costa.
"The margin is not much", but "it is a first step to restore this normality," said António Costa, who spoke on arrival in Golegã, in the district of Santarém, where he will pay homage to José Saramago, in the context of the 20 years of the conquest of Nobel Prize in Literature.
The prime minister revealed that "without further action" will already be inscribed in the State Budget "necessarily a 3.1% increase in the value of the wage bill, which are more 750 million euros."
"We have unfreeze the careers that have been frozen for many years and with a set of promotions this implies an increase in wages. On the other hand, we have a large scientific employment program, involving more than five thousand people, we have opened a tender for the hiring of 1000 new senior technicians for public administration. In this group, we have an increase of 750 million euros, of public administration expenditure, "added António Costa.
The head of government explained that, in addition to the 750 million euros, there is "a margin of 50 million euros, which can be allocated to this goal."
"We always have to make choices when we make a budget. Obviously, those 50 million euros can be channeled for other purposes and there is no shortage of needs in the country, "he said, considering, however, that it is in the increase of wages that the Government wants to bet.
In this sense, unions have been presented with "various scenarios" of how the money can be used.
"If we give the same to everyone, it is little for everyone, especially for those where there would be an increase. We have other scenarios where there are differentiated increases, reinforcing more who have a lower maturity. That is why we have been talking about an increase of 50 euros, for those who have today to earn the national minimum wage. There are still tens of thousands of employees, "he said.
"This is a job we are negotiating with the unions and I hope there will be an agreement, if possible, because it was fair for our administration to take this step further in restoring normality," the prime minister said.
On Thursday, the Finance Ministry said that there are two alternatives on the table for salary increases in the civil service in 2019, but warned of the "additional and unanticipated pressure on public accounts" of the measure.
"If the salary increase already predicted as a result of wage defrosting measures (…) is coupled with a scenario of wage increase, an issue that was not included in the Government Program, additional and unpredicted pressure is placed on the public accounts" , stressed the Ministry of Finance in a statement on the balance of the meetings that afternoon with the unions.
However, the ministry led by Mário Centeno said that "in view of the demand for a salary increase presented by all unions, and reiterating the extreme exigency of this scenario, the Government enunciated some hypotheses."
"The alternatives will be between concentrating this effort on lower wages or a measure that covers all workers and has the same budgetary effort and impact on the wage bill," said the same source, without giving details.
In the same document, Finance re-emphasizes that "the configuration of each measure and its integrated budgetary impact are decisive for the composition of the next State Budget."
The main measure envisaged, according to the ministry, is the continued unfreezing of careers, being "the measure with the greatest budgetary impact".
Unions demand increases of between 3% and 4%, and they expected the government to come up with a counterproposal to wage increase at Thursday's meeting, but that did not happen. The next round is scheduled for Wednesday, the 10th.
The issue has also been negotiated in parliament between the Government, the Left Bloc, the PCP and the ENP.
On Saturday, in statements to Público, Finance Minister Mario Centeno said that the government has available 50 million euros to increase the salaries of civil servants.
"There is no visible margin, we are debating an additional 50 million euros over 750 million euros that will already be in the State Budget for personnel expenses," the minister told the newspaper.