EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Public sector union calls for strike action

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An announcement that 160,000 workers in the Slovenian public sector could have their pay cut by 4% has led to union calls for strike action. Prime Minister Borut Pahor says the parliamentary committee for local self-management independently added the cut to a draft package of measures drawn up to address the budget deficit. He says he will respect agreements with the unions, but they suspect the government is trying to bypass dialogue and confrontation with social partners.

Background

The Slovenian government has submitted a draft restructured government budget to parliament with a package of intervention measures to address the budget deficit. Among other things the Act on Intervention Measures to Tackle Economic Crisis includes:

  • a ban on recruitment in the public sector until the end of 2012;
  • not replacing recently retired workers;
  • a cut in the 2011 public sector pay budget of 1% of the 2010 figure;
  • the possibility of moving workers from one to post to another, and a ban on promotions and premium payments;
  • no outsourcing of work in the public sector, except by universities and research institutes;
  • €4,000 fine for those who exceed the pay budget..

Pay cut amendment added

When discussing the draft, the parliamentary committee for local self-management added an amendment, cutting the pay of the 160,000 public sector employees by 4%. The package, including this amendment, will now be discussed by the Finance Committee and then by the State Assembly.

Trade union reaction

Public sector unions have reacted angrily to the amendment. They suspect that the cuts have been announced in this way so that the government can avoid social dialogue and confrontation. Branimir Štrukelj, President of the Confederation of the Public Sector Trade Unions (KSJS), has announced that if the Finance Committee backs the pay cuts, the whole public sector will go on strike.

Reaction of the government

Prime Minister Pahor has said that the government has had nothing to do with this amendment and that he will respect the agreement with the trade unions. He added that the government will not change public sector pay until the end of 2011 without consulting trade unions. The government is soon to announce proposals for more savings in the public sector for 2012 and 2013, and this may include the possibility of talks with the unions on pay cuts for 2012/2013.

Štefan Skledar, Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development

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