The Slovenia Times

Social partners ready to restore dialogue


Ljubljana - All social partners attending a meeting hosted by President Borut Pahor on Thursday are ready to restore dialogue on the Economic and Social Council (ESS), Pahor said after the talks. An agreement on restoring the dialogue will be prepared by a spacial negotiating group.

According to the president, the task force, consisting of representatives of all three social partners - government, employers and employees, will draw up the agreement, which will contain demands regarding future work on the ESS.

"They all agreed that the preparation and adoption of the agreement should be made quickly," he added.

The trade unions are to present their proposals by the end of the month, said Lidija Jerkič, head of the ZSSS trade union confederation.

The goal is for the task force to have the agreement ready for adoption by the ESS in the first half of September. "Until there is no agreement, trade unions will not return to negotiations on the ESS," Jerkič said, expressing optimism about the prospects an agreement being reached.

Mitja Gorenšček, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and ESS chair, initially proposed that the ESS begin its regular activities in September, starting on 10 September. "However, we realised these preliminary steps will unfortunately not be completed by then."

The Employers' Association stressed ahead of today's meeting that the dialogue within the ESS was crucial for development, especially in times of crisis.

Gorenšček noted that 11 laws had been passed without the ESS in the summer months and that another eight were planned in September. He believes the laws passed would be better if discussed by the ESS.

"This is proven by the fact that two of the laws were halted with a veto by the National Council. To avoid such situations we must find consensus and start negotiations on the ESS," he said.

Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said there were currently more than 40 legislative proposals on the ESS's stable.

"The partners agreed that the burden of having the dialogue continue and social partners cooperate in the forming of these proposals is so great that we have to overcome this challenging period and try again," the minister said.

One of the demands of the government for returning to the ESS talks is the honouring of the ESS rule that debates on legislative proposals must not cause delays in the adoption of the bills.

It will also demand a clear committent that an agreement on every piece of legislation will not be required although it will be desirable.

The third government's demand is consistent honouring of the constitutional responsibilities of the government and the National Assembly. The government carries the responsibility for decision making and adoption of laws regardless of the social dialogue, Cigler Kralj said, adding that it was much better if social dialogue existed.

The main demand by trade unions is the honouring of the rules on the functioning of the ESS. Jerkič stressed that a bill must be discussed by the ESS before the government endorses it. But in the last six months this was not the case, she warned.

Trade unions also want a document to be drawn up for every bill that clearly says what has been endorsed by social partners and what not.

It is also important that the agreements reached on the ESS are honoured and that key solutions are not changed later without consent from other partners, she said.

The agreement will also include the government's views on the motions that are in parliamentary procedure but have not been discussed by the ESS, including the bill on the national demographic fund, the tax package, labour package and the health care and health insurance act, she said.

Trade union confederations pulled out of the social talks in May, arguing the government was systematically breaking the rules on the functioning of the ESS by adopting or proposing regulations concerning social affairs without consulting the ESS.


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