The Slovenia Times

The First Challenge: Austerity Bill


The government's response comes after parties that made it to parliament in the 4 December election said last Friday they would like to see a financial austerity bill passed before the end of the year. A call for renewed talks on the bill was also issued on the same day by a part of public sector trade unions.

The outgoing government, whose attempts to freeze public sector pay, pensions and all social transfers in 2012, were blocked in recent months by some of the unions and the Democrats (SDS), told the unions to assess the chances of finding common ground with Jankovic, the head of Positive Slovenia, which won the election.

Only Jankovic and the new parliament "have the legitimacy required for negotiations and for the fulfillment of potential commitments stemming from an agreement with social partners", State Secretary Milos Pavlica from the PM's office said in a press release.

If such an agreement is reached, the government is still ready to act as the one officially filing the bill, explaining that this is the only way to pass it in fast track procedure and thereby before the end of the year.

Jankovic has so far met only one section of the public sector trade unions, the KSJS confederation, which is represented by Branimir Strukelj, who told the STA that the meeting had been informal.

"We exchanged views on the austerity bill, but we hold different positions," he said, repeating the confederation was only ready to adopt a watered down version of the bill, as presented last by the Zares party, and provided that there would be no unilateral changes to the pay system in 2012.

Meanwhile, Jankovic made a further step in writing a letter to outgoing PM Borut Pahor and the KSJS, in which he urges a prompt adoption of the bill and proposes to the unions a compromise between the rejected government proposal and their demands.

A key point in the proposal, which is only partial as Strukelj explained, is enforcing the freeze on promotions in the public sector only in the first six months and not the entire year as proposed by the government.

The PM and the KSJS, which had demanded that promotions be possible in 2012, are expected to respond to Jankovic's initiative on Tuesday.


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