Like David and Goliath

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

After OGBL had already demanded an increase in public sector salaries at the end of October as part of the negotiations for the new wage agreement, the debate about discrepancies between the state and the private sector has been reignited. Employees talk about the arguments that led them to move from one sector to the other.

Financial stability versus entrepreneurial freedom, "eng roueg Klatz" (someone who does not do much or does not have to do much) versus stress at work, private versus state: Ever since the "Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg" (OGBL) demanded five per cent more pay for public sector employees – and this was granted on December 9 –  things have been simmering in Luxembourg. While civil servants and private sector employees are arguing about the privileges of the respective sectors in the comment columns of media outlets, the civil servants' union (CGFP) is talking about sparking an "envy debate" – after all, it was no coincidence that Marc Hansen, Minister for the Civil Service, published the study on civil servants' pay agreed in 2011 just before the start of negotiations on the new salary agreement.

8,688 euros gross per month, from January 1, 2023 another 106 euros gross per month more for twelve months – this is how much civil servants earn on average in Luxembourg, the 13th month already taken into account, but excluding other "accessories" such as meal or family allowances. Luxembourg's population will have to wait a little longer for the comparative study on wages in the private sector called for by Romain Schmit, Secretary General of the Federation of Craftsmen and -women, but they are already asking themselves the question: Are the clichés about the quiet working life in state institutions with its numerous advantages justified, or should the prejudices be relegated to the same drawer filled with other illegitimate stereotypes?

Financial security

"Some things are better when you work for the state, others you have to get used to", says Tom (name changed by the editor), who switched from the private to the public sector last year. For many years he worked as a graphic designer for private companies, then after a layoff and a few months without a job, he took part in ADEM's FutureSkills training, which includes an internship in the public sector. The graphic designer describes his current job as a B1 career employee as a "stroke of luck", because: "Since I've been working for the state, a lot of things are more relaxed: the working hours, weekends off, a cool team and great projects." Due to the staggering of salaries according to careers, his salary is clearly defined and predictable, the payment of the additional 13th month and the accompanying financial stability thus making the approval of a loan from a bank "less problematic", he says.

Sophie (name changed by the editors) also confirms this. Even before her first official day with her new employer, the civil servant experienced what doors the state job opens: "Five days before my second exam, my flat lease at the time was terminated. So when I got my result, I started looking for a new one. At first I always just said I had a permanent job, but when I was asked and specified that I am working for the state, it was like a free pass." Even the loan for the new car was no problem during her probationary period ("stage") – the bank approved it without hesitation, she recalls.

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