The Slovenia Times

Unions angered by pay rise for top government officials


The ZSSS called on the government to first raise the pay of healthcare workers, shop assistants, cleaners, security guards, bakers, journalists, soldiers, police officers and others who are serving the citizens during the epidemic, and provide for the self-employed, and workers in factories.

"In a time when every single person in Slovenia fears what the future holds, in a time when we are all giving up something (if nothing else a part of our freedom) to make sure we get through this, you are dividing us into first- and second-class citizens," said ZSSS head Lidija Jerkič.

The government offered a more detailed explanation of its decision today, saying that no rules had been changed to allow for the pay rise. Given the current situation and a significant increase in the scope of work, the pay was raised in line with the existing legislation, it said.

Under the public sector salary system act, ministers' pay can range from the 62nd to 64th pay bracket, and that of state secretaries from the 59th to 61st, the Government Communication Office said today.

Yesterday it was decided that the 61st wage bracket will be used for all state secretaries at ministries and the 64th for all ministers.

The cabinet noted that last year the pay of public sector employees changed, which had changed the ratio between their pay and the pay of public office holders. Moreover, public sector employees also receive various bonuses, while public office do not.

PM Janez Janša tweeted on Thursday that nobody had raised pay but merely placed ministers, state secretaries and their closest aids into the possible wage brackets. He said pay should also be raised to all those whose workload increased because of the coronavirus epidemic. "Whoever will work twice as much will get extra pay. Everywhere."

The negotiating group of representative public sector trade unions was not convinced by this explanation. While admitting that the current situation indeed demanded hard work from the government and its team, the group said that raising wages in a time of great uncertainty for many companies and workers was not appropriate.

It noted the government should instead implement the collective bargaining agreement stipulating that those who are exposed to danger at work should receive a bonus, raise the compensation for those temporarily made redundant from 50% to at least 80% of pay, and introduce measures to help the self-employed.

The SPS, one of the two police unions, said the problems of police officers remained unaddressed for more than a decade because of "lack of funds", so the government's move was "distasteful and irresponsible".

"Police officers, who have been overburdened for years because of severe understaffing, unfortunately cannot accept the government's argument that government officials have 'double' workload during the epidemic and thus deserve higher pay," the SPS said.

The union added that police officers were particularly exposed in this epidemic but did not think about their pay but were simply conducting their mission.

Indignation was also expressed by the Association of Pensioners (ZDUS), which said that in time of great strain and uncertainty, "when we all are trying to contain this virus to return to the way were were living a few days ago, you chose to cut a large piece of the pie for yourselves".

The pensioners highlighted the austerity measures adopted by the previous Janez Janša government during the last economic crisis: "In the name of the crisis, you chose a completely different course of action 10 years ago - we are still feeling the effects of your measures."

The government's decision to raise ministers' pay has become a focal point of debate on social media as well, and a group was created urging people to go to their balconies at 6pm today to clap to the government for this move.


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