The Slovenia Times

Coalition planning to increase minimum wage, address labour rights gap


The five centre-left parties supported by the Left seem to want to address the wide gap between those enjoying the labour rights inherited from the old system and those, especially young people, forced into precarious arrangements, according to information obtained by the STA.

The changes would make it easier for employers to adjust to the fast changes in the business environment, but this would be coupled with a gradual equalisation of the rights for all forms of labour in the direction of safe flexibility.

Lidija Jerkič the ZSSS, the country's largest trade union confederation, told the STA that it will be necessary to wait for concrete solutions before making a specific assessments of the coalition priorities.

The ZSSS hopes violators of labour rights will be tackled with better inspections, while it will oppose any reviving of the idea to introduce no-cause layoffs.

Igor Antauer, the secretary general of the Employers' Association, on the other hand welcomed more flexibility in employment. He however hopes this will be real flexibility and that it will come with a safety net for the workers, albeit not one that will encourage long-term unemployment.

The future coalition partners also want a "dignified" minimum wage. While it rose by 4.7% this year to EUR 638 net, the plan is to raise it by 4.5% both in 2019 and 2020 and begin using a new formula to calculate it starting 2021.

While certain bonuses, such as those for overtime work and night-time work, have already been excluded from the minimum wage, the wish is to also get rid of those still being factored in.

Unionist Jerkič said that addressing the minimum wage is not only a political decision, but a vital step.

Antauer is also in favour of a minimum wage that would enable a dignified life, he however doubts a flat rate increase of 4.5% is the right approach. He feels it urgent to compare the minimum wage to the amounts provided by social transfers so as to not discourage people from working.

The precarious labour arguments would be taken on in the public sector, which the emerging coalition hopes will serve as an example for the private sector.

The solutions include a guaranteed minimum wage for temp agency workers, sick-leave support for self-employed persons, and a tougher crack-down of the practice of avoiding open-ended contracts through the daisy-chaining of fixed-term contracts.

Jerkič disagrees with the approach, arguing that "precarious arrangements will also have to be abolished in the private sector and the public sector setting an example will not suffice".

"Precarious forms in fact mean the abuse of laws and it is interesting that such practice is being acknowledged so freely in the coalition agreement," she said.

Antauer does not mind a tougher stance on precarious work forms, he however feels clear definitions are needed first. He is convinced that such arrangements are mostly the result of a too rigid labour market and that they can be positive if people are not forced into them. He meanwhile welcomed sick-leave solutions for the self-employed.

Changes are also planned for the education system, which would focus more on practical training, work experience and projects connecting education and development institutions with companies.

The coalition would also encourage gender quotas for executive positions, which Antauer opposes and Jerkič only finds feasible in state-owned companies.


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