The Slovenia Times

Unions Urge Government to Negotiate


Head of the union coordinating group Branimir Štrukelj said that each minute was important in trying to achieve a compromise.

According to Štrukelj, the government wants to lay the blame for the strike on the unions to cover up the fact that it was not ready to negotiate.

"This is a prime example of pretending ignorance and shifting the blame."

Štrukelj added that the government failed to send the bill on the balancing of public finances, which it adopted yesterday, to the unions.

The unions wonder whether the social dialogue still exists in Slovenia if the bill "trampled on all collective agreements in the public sector".

The coordinating group cannot negotiate the bill without knowing what it envisages regarding the wages, other expenses, social rights and holiday allowances in the public sector, he noted.

Štrukelj added that the coordinating group was satisfied with the appointment of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Minister Andrej Vizjak as the head of the government's negotiations team.

Vizjak noted today that the government would draw up its position on the unions' strike demands as soon as possible, but he added that he expected an invitation to talks to come from the trade unions.

The meeting of the coordinating group moreover touched on the preparations for the strike, which will be held in all major Slovenian cities.

"We only want to tell the government that we are headed in the wrong direction and that we won't get to the finish line this way in a firm, clear, organised and peaceful way," Štrukelj noted.

The unions are moreover glad that the negotiations will finally touch on the measures regarding the employees' norms, the consequences of lay-offs and pay.

Štrukelj believes that the government will take a more constructive position, "when it realises that such measures...with consequences for so many people are not possible, because they are leading into a conflict".

Speaking in an interview with the weekly Mladina, he also noted that the government would not have yet sent the supplementary budget to the National Assembly if it had any intention of reaching an agreement with the social partners on austerity measures.

He added "the boys in the government" were hostage of neo-liberal ideology when it came to reducing the budget deficit and declining to raise the VAT rate.

"Such shock therapy is typical of neo-liberal reforms. Most Slovenia's economic experts are warning against the government's proposals that it is too much too soon."


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