Thursday, 21 June 2012

The end of the 'thirteenth' in Europe?

It's not just Greece that pays its public servants a thirteenth and even a fourteenth month's salary as annual bonus(es); 'Gazeta' reports today that changes are coming into force for Poland's 122,000 civil servants that would effectively make the 'thirteenth' a performance-related bonus rather than a right, together with cuts in retirement benefits and in-service training grants. However, the changes are intended to introduce Anglo-Saxon style labour market flexibility rather than save money; and they will only apply to new employees,  not yet to be rolled out to the whole of the Polish public sector.

Poland is also going through the same EU-dictated liberalisation of the postal service as the UK, with the State Post Office's monopoly on letters under 50g to end this year. However, unlike the UK, there is no established private sector post service and the levels of junk mail through mass mailings is a fraction of the dross that feeds our recycling bins; in addition, the Post Office there will retain a monopoly on many State mailings tied into other State services.

And as in the UK, consumer credit is alive and well in Poland disguised as contracts for mobile devices. The hunger for iPads, 3G and new phones running Windows Phone 8 is huge, the investment costs in infrastructure technology relatively slight and the market full of opportunity for those selling devices disguised as airtime contracts. 

And finally Euro 2012 has been deemed a success - Polish TV has already earned some 83m PLN (£16m) from the likes of MacDonalds and Coca Cola, even if Poland's own sponsoring lager, Warka, has failed to achieve brand penetration outside of domestic markets; it's still Tyskie for the rest of us.

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