Slovenia: Latest working life developments – Q2 2016
Deterioration of social dialogue, discontent among public sector workers after the police wage increase, small wins for workers and vocational education and training priorities 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 second quarter of 2016.
Deadlock in social dialogue
Social dialogue in Slovenia is in crisis. In May 2016, the government withdrew from the bargaining process with public trade unions planned for the first months of 2016. Central public sector wage negotiations on wage policy for 2017–2020 are currently deadlocked. Since the withdrawal of the employer associations from the social agreement for the period 2015–2016 in December 2015, the social dialogue situation deteriorated further in the first half of 2016.
In June 2016, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ESC), Evelin Vesenjak, called on the social partners to rethink previous achievements and the current position of the ESC. She drew attention to the current absence of social dialogue and called upon the social partners to re-establish it, saying that it was the basic form of discussion among the social partners. Her opinion, she said, was that the social partners are aware of the government’s poor attitude towards the ESC, and this had contributed to the deteriorating situation.
Discontent among public sector workers sparked by increase in police pay
In June 2016, the Minister of the Interior and both police unions signed an agreement that would increase police wages from October 2016. A unified public sector salary system for all public servants was introduced in 2008, and this was the first time since then that a separate agreement had been reached with one group of public sector workers. The new agreement upset other public sector unions, which see it as damaging to the wage system’s unity. They have warned the government of more protests and strikes. On 9 June, the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions of Slovenia (KSJS) organised a protest in Ljubljana in front of the main government building. The government met with the unions on 27 June, but the two sides were not able to agree on issues such as workplace promotions and supplementary pension insurance.
In the private sector, the Catering and Tourism Workers’ Union of Slovenia (GIT) initiated negotiations with the employer associations in April 2016. In May 2016, both employer associations refused to negotiate on pay for annual leave and wages. Unilateral withdrawal from the negotiation process led to disagreements among the workers. In June 2016, the social partners agreed on an increase in annual leave pay for 2016 and will sign the amendment to the collective agreement for the catering and tourism sector.
Vocational education and training priorities
The National Reform Programme 2016–2017 was adopted in April 2016. Its aim is to achieve smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. In the field of vocational education and training, emphasis will be put on developing practical training models in close cooperation with the social partners. Several vocational education and training programmes will be delivered in cooperation with the labour market to stimulate investment in human resources and employee training in companies, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Adult education initiatives will focus on finance for programmes to help adults acquire basic and vocational competencies and on co-financing education to increase levels of education and to help adults acquire professional competencies. The main focus of these initiatives will be on people older than 45 who have lower levels of education, that is, International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) levels 1–2.