The Slovenia Times

Conference debates quality work for life


Ljubljana - A high level conference hosted by the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU on Thursday discussed quality work for life, which labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj described as sustainable work that benefits the individual and society. Both him and the European commissioner for jobs noted the key role of social dialogue.

The minister said that two of his main priorities were a responsive labour market and care for older persons. Given population ageing, only quality allows a fast and simple entry into the labour market and staying in it as long as possible, he said.

"Sustainable work benefits not only employees, but also employers and social prosperity because it reduces pressure on public finances," said the minister, adding that securing such work contributes to coping with demographic change more successfully.

He noted the negative consequences of unsustainable work on workers' health, and that keeping workers in work longer is only possible if they are healthy, suitably trained, motivated for work and lifelong learning, and if working conditions are people-friendly.

Cigler Kralj also highlighted better work-life balance as an important element of quality work and productivity; he welcomed flexible forms of work that allow more autonomy at work and in distributing work time, but also cautioned that the boundary between private and professional could become blurred.

Skills and knowledge are essential elements of quality work; "to allow everyone in the labour market to realise their potential in the best possible way, and thus create higher value-added jobs and professions of the future, investing in employee training is essential for the competitiveness of the employer and the EU as a whole".

"Continuous improvement of people's working and living conditions is one of the fundamental goals of the European Union. The European pillar of social right shows the way to the goal - it is in accordance with its principles to ensure sustainable work, in particular in the context of recovery and green, digital and demographic transition," he said.

Senior officials from various countries and European organisations addressed a panel debate that followed, and then the conference was also addressed by Nicolas Schmit, the European commissioner for jobs and social rights.

He hailed the timing of the topic as quality work dovetails with post-pandemic resilience and recovery with the ambition being to create better conditions than they were before the coronavirus outbreak.

The commissioner noted the changing nature of work due to digitalisation, robotisation and artificial intelligence, and the impact of that on the quality of life, saying that technological development should serve people rather than the other way around.

He spoke of young people having a new approach to work and wanting to work for companies that advocated certain values. They also demanded a right balance between professional and family life.

Schmit noted the importance of using talents, competences and skills to increase productivity, the need for people to be motivated, and decent wages as the first step toward quality work.

He mentioned the importance of equality, in particular gender equality, and safety and health at work, including mental health and the right to switch off.

Like Cigler Kralj, he highlighted social dialogue at the level of state and businesses as being essential for quality work, along with democratic rights.


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