Labour ministry to cut civil service jobs in efficiency drive

In June 2007, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family announced its decision to dismiss about 1,500 civil servants in response to the government’s aim to reduce the number of civil servants by 20%. The civil servants are to be dismissed due to the ongoing decline in the number of unemployed people in Slovakia, thus making their services redundant. A redeployment programme for the dismissed civil servants will help them secure new work as soon as possible.

The Slovakian government has embarked on the task of reducing the number of civil servants by 20% by the end of 2007. Among the government ministries that have already announced the number of employees to be dismissed is the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR). In early June 2007, the MPSVR SR announced that some 1,501 of its employees are to be dismissed by the end of 2007. According to the MPSVR SR’s budget for 2007, 14,046 persons are employed by budgetary organisations in the sector, 419 of whom are employees of the ministry. The planned reduction in employees in the sector thus amounts to 11% of the total number of employees within the ministry’s budget.

Details of planned dismissals

According to available information, plans are underway to dismiss 1,460 employees working at the Centre of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Ústredie práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny, ÚPSVaR) and at its regional offices. This amounts to around 16% of the total number of employees employed by the ÚPSVaR in 2006.

The Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, Viera Tomanová, explains that the job cuts have arisen due to the need to increase the work efficiency and financial savings of the state administration. In order to determine the number of employees to be dismissed, the MPSVR SR took into account the accessibility of labour, social affairs and family offices to citizens, the unemployment rate and the number of social benefit recipients in the regions assessed. The number of job reductions will differ according to these indicators, and regionally they will range from between 9% and 23%. The largest number of employees will be dismissed in the labour offices of the country’s capital city of Bratislava and in Košice in eastern Slovakia, where the unemployment rates are the lowest in the entire country. The smallest number of employees will be dismissed in regions with high unemployment levels.

Decline in unemployment levels

A growing number of new investors are setting up operations in Slovakia; this has led to the creation of new jobs and a decline in the number of unemployed people registered at the country’s labour offices. This development has, in turn, caused a disparity between the number of job applicants and the number of civil servants employed by Slovakia’s labour offices. In short, the declining unemployment rate has resulted in the need to also reduce the number of civil servants. According to the Director of one of the regional labour offices, Marian Mesiarik, a reduction in the number of employees at the labour offices is legitimate due to the drop in unemployment levels.

Redeployment programme

In order to alleviate the negative social and economic impacts of the dismissals, the ÚPSVaR has prepared a national programme for the dismissed employees, entitled ‘Outplacement’ (ÚPSVaR, ‘Pre prepúšťaných zamestnancov úradov práce je pripravený Národný projekt, SME, 19 June 2007). The programme, which will be co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), aims to help the dismissed employees to secure suitable employment as soon as possible. Most of the dismissed employees will have access to favourable job opportunities, for example at the Labour Inspectorate (Inšpektorát Práce), or at regional or local government offices, where they can work on implementing projects financed by the EU structural funds. Due to the lack of qualified employees, vacancies still exist in this area. It is estimated that only approximately 150–200 of the dismissed employees will need to register as unemployed at the labour offices.

Trade union response

The Slovak Trade Union Association of Public Administration (Slovenský odborový zväz verejnej správy, SLOVES) deems the government’s decision to reduce the number of civil servants by 20% as a non-systemic measure which is unrealistic. According to the Chair of SLOVES, Marcela Gatciová, the planned dismissals must not worsen the services provided by the labour, social affairs and family offices to Slovakia’s citizens.

Ludovit Cziria, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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