Slovenia: Latest working life developments – Q3 2017
Public sector wage anomalies, changes to labour law and the education sector’s collective agreement, reforming the pension and disability insurance system are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovenia in the third quarter of 2017.
Wage deal for lowest paid public servants
Central public sector negotiations continued on eliminating anomalies in wage levels between the different occupational groups of public servants. According to last year’s agreement between the government and public sector trade unions, the anomalies were expected to be eliminated in 2017, with €70 million allocated to iron out all the irregularities.
In July 2017, the first round of negotiations agreed a solution to the anomalies for the lowest paid public servants up to the 26th salary bracket, at an approved total cost of €71 million. Negotiations continue about anomalies in the wage levels for those above the 26th salary bracket.
Most public sector trade unions (28 out of 41) signed, at the end of July, Annex 10 to the Collective Agreement for Public Sector and annexes to their respective sectoral collective agreements. However, not all public sector trade unions agreed with the government’s proposals. After the talks on pay rises fell through at the end of September, the Trade Union of Professional Firefighters (SPGS) announced that there would be a rally in front of the government building at the beginning of October. It said that if the rally did not produce results, a strike would be the next step.
During the negotiations, the SPGS suggested that all firefighters should receive an increase for two wage brackets, with two posts (chief of the fire brigade group and head of shift II) receiving an increase of three wage brackets. The Minister of Defence, Andreja Katič, pointed out that the result of these negotiations would mean higher salaries for 147 firefighters but, if the union signed the proposed Annex to the sectoral collective agreement, it would raise wages for another 508 firefighters.
At the end of September 2017, the doctors’ trade union FIDES announced that there would be an all-out strike on 27 November. The reasons for industrial action are some unmet requirements from the strike agreement signed in March 2017, in particular regarding the 57th salary bracket as a pay ceiling for doctors. The Minister of Health, Milojka Kolar Celarc, said that this still open issue is a matter for the Ministry of Public Administration and depends on negotiations with other trade unions, but the negotiations with doctors will continue.
Labour market legislation changes
In June 2017, the government adopted changes to the Labour Market Regulation Act (ZUTD) and the Labour Inspection Act (ZID-1) after finally reaching a deal with the social partners. Amendments to the labour market legislation cover different measures intended to activate labour market policies for unemployed people, while amendments to the labour inspection legislation include new powers for labour inspectors to prevent work on the basis of civil law contracts and to protect workers if the employer does not pay workers on time. The National Assembly passed these changes at the end of September. The third legislative change, changes to the Employment Relationship Act (ERA-1), is expected to be agreed with social partners.
Amendments to education sector agreement
In 2016, the Court of Audit found that working time and labour service in different schools were arranged differently. Now, working time and labour service will be defined in more detail. In July 2017, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the representative education trade unions of Slovenia signed an amendment. Teachers’ labour service in elementary and upper secondary schools – within a 40-hour working week – will comprise of a weekly amount of teaching (defined by law), preparation time for classes, marking and assessment of pupils’ work and other duties required for implementing the school’s annual educational programme. For all these activities, except for other services, 33 hours per week are assigned to a teacher in weeks with lessons: other services may total between 150 and 180 hours in a school year. The impact of this agreement will be monitored in selected schools during the 2017/2018 school year.
Reform ongoing for pension and disability insurance
The government started to negotiate with the social partners on changes to pension and disability insurance in June 2016 and, after one year of discussions, in July 2017 the social partners and the government have unanimously adopted starting points for the reform. One of the most important measures of the reform is to gradually achieve an adequate pension of at least 70% of a person’s salary. The reform is also to ensure transparency in the way that the pension and disability insurance system is operated, and to raise the confidence of all generations of policyholders in the system. The reform is expected to be finalised by 2020.
Changes to active employment plans
In July 2017, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities adopted changes to the active employment plan for 2017 and a plan for 2018. The plan for 2017 provides for funding of over €102 million, while funds for 2018 will total nearly €87 million. Measures will be targeted at the most vulnerable groups (the long-term employed, older, younger and low-educated people) that need more encouragement, despite more favourable labour market conditions.
In 2016, the active labour market policy delivered support for employment, and self-employment, plus several education and training programmes, contributing to the employability of unemployed people; over €65 million was spent on these programmes, reaching 20,386 people.