Employer organisations urge PM not to yield to public sector
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), the Manager Association, the British-Slovenian and the Slovenian-German chambers of commerce sent a letter to Cerar, warning of the consequences that the public sector trade unions' demands, estimated at a billion euro, could have for the country.
GZS head Boštjan Gorjup said that they were concerned by the trade unions' "unrealistic demands", because their implementation would cause economic stagnation.
Slovenia is already allocating 11% of GDP for public sector wages, which is one percentage point above the EU average, Gorjup said, adding that the wage bill would need to be cut by EUR 550m to be level with the EU average.
GZS director general Sonja Šmuc added that despite pay rises, the efficiency of the public sector had dropped by 3% in the past decade.
"The billion euro demanded by the public sector trade unions could mean a thousand euro less for each employee if income tax was raised as a result.
"It can also mean a billion euro less for investment in schools, roads, bridges repair. Or it can mean 35,000 fewer public sector employees if the current wage bill is preserved and pay rations among different groups changed," she warned.
Higher monthly wages in the public sector would be justified only if the efficiency of the sector rose. But probably the wages in the private sector would need to rise first, because this is what generates money flow into the budget and allows for public sector pay rises, Šmuc said.
The associations propose that the government cut taxes on wages instead and thus benefit all employees.
The call comes just before the second round of strikes announced for 12, 13 and 14 February by police officers, nurses and teachers, respectively.
Some 30,000 employees in the state administration, healthcare, social care and some educational institutions staged a strike on 24 January.
The wave of strikes was provoked by pay deals that the government struck with individual groups of professions, primarily doctors, and thus disrupted the agreed ratios in the public sector pay system.