Trade unions push for 13th month wages and Christmas bonus

In November 2006, the Union of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia once again called on employers to award workers with a ‘13th-month’ payment according to the provisions of sectoral collective agreements. In 2005, 21.6% of workers received this payment. Moreover, the union requested the payment of a Christmas bonus to employees, where this was provided for by a collective agreement or other special agreement between employers and trade unions.

In November 2006, the Union of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (Zveza svobodnih sindikatov Slovenije, ZSSS) (SI0210102F) once again called on employers to pay workers a ‘13th-month’ wage payment (in Slovenian, 141Kb PDF) in November and December, as determined by the sectoral collective agreements. ZSSS issues a similar call to employers on an annual basis (SI0412301N).

ZSSS also called on employers to pay workers a Christmas bonus where provided for by a collective agreement or a special agreement concluded by the employer and the representative trade unions.

Moreover, the trade union organisation estimates that there is still room for negotiation to allow for pay adjustments in line with positive productivity growth. The ZSSS considers that the restrictive pay policy, agreed by the trade unions and employers (SI0607039I), undoubtedly contributes to strong economic growth and therefore the union expects that the employers will pay the workers a ‘13th-month’ wage.

Conditions of additional wage payment

As a rule, the employer is not obliged to pay a 13th-month wage to employees. The majority of sectoral collective agreements stipulate that the employer and the representative trade unions in a company must agree on that part of the pay which workers should receive according to a company’s good economic performance. The parties involved must conclude a special written agreement on this issue at the beginning of the year when the company’s business plan is adopted. In general, the agreement is drafted accordingly, so that in the event of a company achieving its adopted business goals, the employer pays workers the agreed amount of the 13th-month wage.

For example, the collective agreement for the metal materials and foundries sector, concluded at the beginning of 2006, determines in Article 46 on pay for successful business performance that:

Criteria for the determination of that part of the pay which is defined according to successful business performance are agreed by the employer and company trade unions when a company’s business plan is adopted.

ZSSS encouraged its company trade unions to conclude such written agreements and to define the amount and the manner of payment of this bonus based on the company’s successful business operations.

In the event that a worker was absent from work during the last year, the worker is entitled to the appropriate proportion of the 13th-month wage, according to the amount of time worked during the last year. For example, if a worker worked only six months during the last year, that worker is entitled to half of the 13th-month wage.

Trends in payment of 13th-month wage

In 1996, when the 13th-month wage payment was introduced for the first time, only 2% of workers received the payment. However, the proportion of workers receiving the payment is growing every year. In 2005, 21.6% of workers received a 13th-month payment and the amount of the payment averaged at SIT 156,824 (€667 as at 22 January 2007). ZSSS expects that the proportion of workers receiving this payment and the amount of payment will be similar for 2006. In terms of the sectors in which workers received the 13th-month wage in 2006, the highest rates of payments were made in the following sectors: electricity, gas and water supply (79.7% of workers receiving payment), banking and insurance (64.2%), chemical industry (59.7%), as well as transport and communications (39.8%). The lowest amount of payment was made in the textiles and leather industry (17%).

Commentary

ZSSS considers that a 13th-month wage payment to workers is a good incentive to motivate workers to strive for good economic results for their employer. There are no separate data on the average amount of the Christmas bonus, as the statistical office combines these data with data on the 13th-month payment.

Štefan Skledar, Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD)

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