Pay to rise in electronics industry after strike action

Wages are to rise in Slovenia's electronics industry in Slovenia after social partners agreed amendments to a deal on 29 March 2013. This followed a one day strike by 14,000 workers in January. The lowest basic wages in all tariff classes rose by 2.4%, backdated to 1 March 2013, and will rise by a further 2% on 1 September 2013. The annual holiday allowance will rise to €830. Trade unions were pleased because all pay in the sector is now set above the level of the national minimum wage.

Background

More than 14,000 Slovenian steel and electronics workers at 102 companies took part in a strike on 23 January 2013 in support of their wage demands (SI1301041I). The strike was organised by the Steel and Electronics Industries Union of Slovenia (SKEI), which is a member of the Union of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS).

After the strike, negotiations began anew. The Slovenian Press Agency (STA), said unions and employers concluded amendments to the Collective Agreement for the Activity of the Electroindustry of Slovenia (CAAES) on 29 March 2013. SKEI usually renegotiates the lowest basic wages with employer organisations in three collective agreements; for the electronics industry, the metal industry and the metal materials and foundries sector.

In the electronics industry, SKEI had demanded a 6.5% wage increase, a rise of 7.5% in the metal industry and a 9% rise in the metal materials and foundries industries.

The agreement was signed by representatives of four trade unions (of which SKEI was the strongest) and two employer organisations covering the electronics industry.

Rise in wages in electro industry

According to the Law on Employment Relationships (LER), a wage is composed of three parts – the basic wage, a performance-related segment and extra payments. In sectoral collective agreements, the term ‘lowest basic wage’ (the lowest gross basic monthly wage for 174 hours of work) is used. There is a tariff setting out nine wage levels ranging from 'simple' work – to the highest, extremely important and most demanding type of work. Social partners agree the lowest basic wage is agreed for each level.

According to the Slovenian Press Agency the deal means that the lowest basic wages in all levels rose by 2.4%, effective on 1 March 2013. They will rise by a further 2% on 1 September 2013. The annual holiday allowance will rise to €830.

Reaction of trade unions

SKEI was pleased with the deal even though it had sought a 6.5% pay rise. This was because they had felt it vital that the lowest basic wages, which they said were 'indecently low', rose above the level of the statutory minimum wage. Until the agreement, the lowest basic wages in the first five tariff classes in all three sectoral collective agreements had been lower than the statutory gross monthly minimum wage – €783.66 per month for the year 2013 (SI1301031I). So under to Slovenia’s Minimum Wage Act (32Kb MS Word), all employers had had to pay workers in the first five tariff classes the Slovenian minimum wage in spite of the fact that the collective agreements determined lower basic wages.

The reaction of employers

The head of the electronics section at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), Valter Leban, said it was crucial that the deal was hammered out at the negotiating table ‘without street pressure’.

Štefan Skledar, UMAR

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