The Slovenia Times

Improving work conditions seen as major achievement of EU presidency

Daily news

Ljubljana - Contribution to improving work conditions in the EU was highlighted as Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj presented on Monday the achievements of Slovenia's EU presidency in his department. He noted that a final agreement had been reached on the protection of workers against carcinogens, and major steps taken on two directives on wages.

"The Slovenian presidency put people at the centre when it comes to employment, social policy and equal opportunities," said Cigler Kralj, who is also responsible for the family, social affairs and equal opportunities in the government.

Speaking at a press conference in Ljubljana, he added that the Slovenian presidency in the second half of 2021 had set two priorities - creating resilient and inclusive labour markets, and resilient and inclusive societies in the EU.

The presidency was very successful in this respect, the minister said, noting the final agreement on the proposal for a directive on the protection of workers from carcinogens as a key contribution of the presidency.

Cigler Kralj said the document would make jobs in the EU healthier, safer and more sustainable, adding that he had been shocked to learn that more than 100,000 people died every year from exposure to carcinogens in the workplace.

The minister also noted the agreement within the EU Council on proposals for directives on adequate minimum wages and on pay transparency, saying that the former could enable growth of minimum wages in more than half of the member states.

Noting that it could improve the well-being of more than 25 million workers in the EU, he said that the directive was about "providing decent pay for honest work" and added that people who worked must not be poor.

As for the proposal for a directive on pay transparency, Cigler Kralj said it would help prevent discrimination and guarantee the right to equal pay for women and men for equal work.

The aim of the directive is to address the inconsistencies in the exercise of the fundamental right to actual pay, which the minister considers as a major step forward.

The largest event concerning the labour market and social policy hosted by Slovenia during the presidency was an informal meeting of the EU ministers in charge of employment and social policy in Brdo pri Kranju in July.

The event focused on ensuring recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was attended by representatives of the Western Balkan countries, with a joint declaration on sustainable integration of young people in the labour market being adopted.

On this basis, countries in the region will receive European funds for the implementation of youth guarantee schemes. "This has brought new hope for young people in the labour markets of these countries," Cigler Kralj said.

When it comes to resilient and inclusive society, the presidency focused on the most vulnerable groups, with the minister noting the conference on guarantees for children, which called for greater effort to reduce poverty and social exclusion in the EU.

A November conference on human rights for all ages noted that a person ages from birth, not only in later years, and a conference on the rights of persons with disabilities was held in the same month, he said.

The minister added that the latter conference had called for enhanced multimodal mobility and accessibility, which he considers as a crucial feature for greater participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities in society.


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