Slovenia: Latest working life developments – Q1 2017

The unions’ rejection of pension reform proposals, employers' demands for the withdrawal of a mini labour reform and the launch of the unions’ fair pay campaign are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovenia in the first quarter of 2017.

Unions reject proposals on pension reform

Proposals on pension reform, issued in April 2016 by an interministerial commission, were rejected in January at a conference of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS). The White Book on Pensions is a 312-page document setting out a ‘new intergenerational agreement’ on the pension system. It contains long-term projections of expenses for pensions and a draft proposal for the pension reform. The main proposals rejected by ZSSS are to:

  • raise the retirement age to 67 years;
  • extend the pensionable earnings base from 24 to 34 consecutive most favourable years
  • use the same percentage for assessing pensions for women and men;
  • have a higher ratio (1:5) between the lowest and the highest pension (until now this has been 1:4).

However, Slovenia’s Chamber of Commerce (GZS) supports the proposals and is urging the social partners to help get them adopted by the end of 2018 or by 2020 at the latest.

Employer organisations call for withdrawal of ‘mini labour reform’

Employer organisations have objected to proposed amendments to the Employment Relationship Act, Labour Market Regulation Act and Labour Inspection Act, which together constitute the ‘mini labour reform’. The main aim of the reform is to tackle the problem of employees performing work via civil agreements rather than on the basis of an employment agreement. 

The Ministry for Labour, Family, Equal Opportunities and Social Affairs says its proposals will ensure:

  • more effective intervention by the labour inspectorate;
  • legal safeguards for employees;
  • incentives for employers to conclude indefinite employment contracts;
  • greater security for employees who lose their jobs.

Three employer organisations – GZS, the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia (OZS) and the Association of Employers in Craft and Small Businesses of Slovenia (ZDOPS) – have demanded the complete withdrawal of the reform. They are unhappy that:

  • the reform does not allow them to sack workers for incompetence;
  • the labour inspectorate will be able to demand that the bogus self-employed are properly employed within three days;
  • the inspectorate will be able to shut down a business that  does not pay salaries within the legally stipulated deadline.

Branko Meh, President of OZS said the ‘amendments are tailor-made for trade unions and workers exclusively’. Samo Milič Hribar, President of GZS said they bring ‘a stricter inspection control and new sanctions instead of greater flexibility’, while Drago Delalut, President of ZDOPS said they ‘provide only partial measures and do not adhere to a number of objectives […] which are of key interest to employers’.

Trade unions launch fair pay campaign

At a joint conference on 16 February, 12 trade unions in the private sector, all members of the ZSSS, launched the campaign ‘Fair pay and eight-hour day’. The unions’ campaign is a part of the 2017 pay rise campaign by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The unions argue that employees’ working conditions and wages lag behind businesses’ rising productivity and profits. Their main demands are:

  • equalisation of the minimum basic salary for the first tariff of a collective agreement with the statutory minimum wage;
  • strict adherence to the eight-hour working day.

In response, GZS organised a conference on 3 March to address the problem of pay and productivity, issuing a press release with a clear message for the public that ‘labour costs in Slovenia are too high’.

New agreement for doctors and dentists 

The Union of Doctors and Dentists of Slovenia (Fides) called off its strike, announced for 6 March, after successful negotiations with the government. Fides signed a collective agreement, which includes two annexes. The first stipulates working standards and norms for doctors, while the second provides for a new assessment of medical jobs and defines two new posts – senior specialist doctor and senior dentist/doctor without a specialisation licence.

The wage bill for doctors and dentists will now be increased by €13.9 million. A new initiative aimed at shortening waiting periods will cost €36 million and will start on 1 April.

Act on cross-border services 

In February, the National Assembly passed the Transnational Provision of Services Act (ZČmlS) governing the cross-border provision of services by employers using posted workers and the cross-border provision of services by the self-employed. Under the new law, posted workers and the self-employed remain covered by the compulsory social insurance in their home country. The aim of the law is the prevention of abuse in posting workers abroad and the transposition of EU directives and regulations, which require more stringent conditions for the issuing of A1 certificates. Such certificates prove that the holder is covered under their home country’s social insurance.

Commentary

Other developments in the first quarter of 2017 include an increase of 1.8% in the minimum wage and, in January, the introduction of Rules of Procedure of the Economic and Social Council. These two achievements are signs of a strengthened social dialogue after a period of quite severe confrontation. They are also a good foundation for the social dialogue that will soon have to deal with challenges such as the new pension reform and the mini labour reform.

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