The Slovenia Times

Klampfer's focus on long-term unemployment and precariat


The minister told the STA she was an advocate of social dialogue; however, she conceded that being a part of the minority government, it was hard for her to lead such discussions.

She believes that changes to the rules and procedure of the Economic and Social Council (ESS) will resolve the conflict since they will enable social partners to debate bills sent to parliament by the opposition as well.

Klampfer, who would like to reach an agreement that will transcend the term of this government, expects long-term negotiations to start next year.

Employers' fears about what raising the minimum wage could do to some companies and business sectors are unfounded, according to her.

She believes that the amendment to the minimum wage act, which was endorsed last year and was not coordinated with employers, will be an opportunity for reorganising companies to improve productivity and increase value added, which is currently 20% lower in Slovenia than in other EU countries.

Highlighting that compared to Slovenia, lower minimum wages are found only in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland, Klampfer said that it was unacceptable that "a person who works full-time needs social transfers to survive".

Asked about unemployment in Slovenia, the minister said the situation had been improving, adding that the number of those without a job in September was the lowest since October 2007.

The share of those unemployed long-term has peaked though, but the figure is decreasing, said the minister, expressing satisfaction over the results of a pilot project aiming to mitigate the long-term unemployment issue.

Another strategic priority of the minister is the fight against precarious work.

While the ministry has prepared "certain starting points" for dealing with the issue of illegal temp workers, it is yet to start tackling the precarious situation of the self-employed.

An inter-ministerial task force designed to come up with relevant strategies is expected to wrap up their work in the spring.

"Excessive regulation could be detrimental for the development of business and innovations, so we need to be careful not to break the entrepreneurial spirit," said the minister.

She also warned about another issue - employees being available 24/7 to their employers through phones and emails, saying that would have to be addressed by balancing out the work and private lives and thus improving employees' mood, health and the falling birth rate, another burning issue, according to Klampfer.

The ministry is not planning any major changes to the employment relationships act, but it will start preparing a comprehensive, sustainable pension reform at the beginning of next year, exploring the possibilities of allowing people to stay active longer.

Slovenians retire on average at the age of 58 already, while only Greece has a lower share of people aged between 60 and 65 and actively employed, highlighted Klampfer.

However, the minister pointed out that apart from legislation encouraging longer work activity, the job market should be made more elderly-friendly as well.

"Some oppose me, saying that robotisation and digitalisation cost a lot. But there are other ways than just robotisation," she said, adding that employers could focus more on adapting jobs for older workers; a step which will be promoted by the government.

The ministry will also aim to make up on pension assets lost during the financial crisis due to a lack of pension indexation at that time.

Based on the recent coalition agreement, an exceptional pension indexation in 2020 will take place in case of economic growth exceeding 2.5%.

Klampfer also touched upon the strategies improving the social security of the elderly that are in the works, calling for the development of community forms of support as well as institutional care, saying that a third of people in retirement homes could still be living at home using assisted living solutions.

The ministry is not planning on any social system reforms, but it will continue to simplify and automate procedures, said Klampfer, adding that some 16% of the budget was intended for social transfers.

Using organisational and administrative measures, the ministry has not been lagging behind in social transfer granting procedures for the first time since 2012, said Klampfer, adding that some 95% of requests had already been processed.

The ministry is also catching up on dealing with appeals, having reduced the number of pending complaints by more than 85% since the start of this government's term, and is aiming to get ahead by the end of this year, concluded the minister.


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