Slovenia: Latest working life developments – Q3 2016
Wage negotiations in the public sector, the suspension of dialogue between employer organisations and the government over tax amendments, and protests by assistant kindergarten teachers regarding pay are among the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovenia in the third quarter of 2016.
Public sector wage negotiations continue
Central public sector wage negotiations for 2017–2020 continued in September, but both sides are still far from a compromise on the gradual easing of the remaining austerity measures, implemented during the economic crisis.
At the end of September, after talks broke down, the government sent parliament a bill on public sector pay for 2017. Public sector trade unions were unhappy that the government adopted its negotiating proposal as law and called it a degradation of the very essence of social dialogue. Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that pay policy in the public sector remains an important anchor for the sustainability of public finances.
The negotiating teams of the government and public sector trade unions were due to continue talks in October, focusing on the unfreezing of holiday allowances, collective pension insurance premiums and performance bonuses. If the social partners are unable to agree by the end of the year, an emergency law is in place to extend the remaining austerity measures in the public sector for one year and to postpone, until January 2018, pay rises for people who have been promoted.
Employer organisations suspend dialogue with government
Slovenia’s five major business associations have suspended dialogue with the government after parliament passed its tax restructuring package, including a raise in corporate income tax. The associations are:
- Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (GZS);
- Association of Employers of Slovenia (ZDS);
- Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia (ODS);
- Association of Employers in Craft and Small Businesses of Slovenia (ZDOPS);
- Club of Slovenian Entrepreneurs (SBC).
The new tax reform would lower the tax burden on higher wages, with the government partly compensating for this loss of revenue by increasing taxation on companies’ profits. According to the new tax legislation, companies would, from 2017, have to pay tax at 19% on their profits, instead of 17% as before. The government expects that this will boost the competitiveness of the business environment in Slovenia, but the business associations have announced a protest rally.
Assistant kindergarten teachers in wages protests
Teachers belonging to the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (SVIZ) and to the Trade Union of Workers in the Education, Training and Research Activities of Slovenia (VIR) organised demonstrations at the end of September in front of the parliament building, demanding decent pay for assistant teachers in kindergartens. Their basic monthly pay is around €650.
Several other trade unions supported the demonstrations, including Slovenia’s largest trade union confederation, the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS). Approximately 2,000 assistant teachers joined the rally. Education Minister, Maja Makovec Brenčič, said the valuation of assistant teachers’ work was a system anomaly, which had occurred some years ago, and proposed a pay increase for two wage tariffs or a flat rate rise of €120 a month. The Minister of Public Administration, Boris Koprivnikar, stressed that the existing agreement with trade unions calls for system anomalies to be resolved for all wage groups simultaneously, although an exception has been recently made for police officers. The Minister promised to reach an agreement to resolve such wage anomalies in the public sector by the end of the year.