The Slovenia Times

No Compromise on Austerity in Public Sector


Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Andrej Vizjak said the unions' decision to reject the proposal showed they had been negotiating in "bad faith", which was why he saw no sense in proceeding with the negotiations any longer. The government's latest proposal was for the unions to yield on pay in exchange for the withdrawal of an increase in work norms and decrease in standards in education from the omnibus bill. Along with a 9% pay cut, the proposal would also entail a 50% cut in pension premiums for public employees.

The government proposed that negotiations on standards and norms continue with the representative unions in a bid to reach agreement within three weeks. But the 24 unions that held a strike on 18 April unanimously rejected the proposal with their chief negotiator Branimir Ċ trukelj labelling it a "disappointment". The unions agreed with the withdrawal of standards and norms, but would not consent to a three-week deadline for agreement.

The unions expressed readiness for a new round of talks on Saturday, but Vizjak said he saw no point, as the unions were not ready to make any concessions. He said though that the government was ready to discuss any constructive proposal. Ċ trukelj urged the government to accept the unions' latest proposal for a for a 8% cut in pay, or else the strike, which is suspended, could be stepped up, or the unions could start collecting signatures for a referendum against the omnibus bill. But Minister Vizjak said that the unions' last proposal and the government's initial proposal were in a ratio of one to 20. Should the government accept the proposal, it would do little to balance public finances, which is unacceptable, Vizjak said. He would not speculate about the fate of the omnibus bill on the balancing of public finances. The coalition are set to meet on Sunday to discuss which of the austerity measures in the controversial bill they will insist on and which they may tone down.

The deadline for the filing of amendments to the omnibus bill expires on Monday. The motion will be debated by the parliamentary Finance and Monetary Committee on Monday afternoon, and then taken on by the National Assembly at the plenary that is expected to start on Thursday.


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