The Slovenia Times

Committee rejects proposal to further rise minimum wage


Ljubljana - The parliamentary Labour Committee discussed the minimum wage in two separate sessions on Tuesday. The committee members rejected a proposal for an increase in minimum wage beyond the 4.9% rise set by the labour minister.

Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj announced in early January that this year the minimum wage would be adjusted to last year's inflation and would thus increase by 4.9% to EUR 1,074.43 gross.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) and Left, which had requested the sessions, respectively, called for the higher increase, arguing that the 4.9% spike was by far insufficient in light of rising living costs, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

Soniboj Knežak, an MP with the SD, said that the minister's wage increase did not come close to matching rising living costs and soaring energy prices. Moreover, high corporate profits and economic growth have not translated into an appropriate increase.

Left MP Miha Kordiš also noted that the 4.9% rise should be taken with a grain of salt, as this was a gross amount that translated into some EUR 20 at net wage level.

Meanwhile, the ministry's State Secretary Cveto Uršič said: "The minister followed the existing legislation in indexing the minimum wage, he respected social dialogue, consulted social partners and sought a compromise that would satisfy all partners and the needs of the people."

The minister also took into account the Covid-related precarious situation in the labour market and in the economy, as well as relatively favourable macroeconomic forecasts for the coming years.

"Currently, among the 21 countries in the EU with a statutory minimum wage, seven have a higher minimum wage than Slovenia," Uršič pointed out.

Representatives of trade unions and employers' organisations had also been invited to the sessions, but the latter did not end up coming.

Trade unions are disappointed over the increase. Martina Vuk from the KSJS confederation of public sector unions said that the 4.9% rise could not be called a compromise, as this had been the ministry's initial proposal in the negotiations.

Irena Vidic from the ZSSS trade union confederation pointed out that the minimum cost of living is calculated at least every six years in line with the law. This is too long a period, the ZSSS has consistently been warning, she said.

"The amount calculated in 2017 no longer reflects the actual situation," she said, adding that the ministry had failed to address this so far.

Uršič explained that the ministry planned to revise the system this year.

The committee rejected two proposals by the SocDems: a proposal to call on the minister to revoke the increase and to propose to the social partners an adjustment of 140% of the minimum cost of living, as well as a proposal to urge the government to table a bill to calculate the minimum cost of living every year.

During the second session, the members rejected the Left's proposal to raise the minimum wage this year to at least EUR 1173.3 gross or EUR 814.4 net in what, the party said, would make a difference in the lives of workers compared to what is the case now.

"It is more than obvious that the election is nearing. There is a fierce rivalry between the SD and the Left... and then we have double Labour Committee sessions. But don't worry, [former GEN-I director Robert] Golob is entering politics and he will also bring order to the left pole," said Aleksander Reberšek from the coalition New Slovenia (NSi).

All three proposals were dismissed in an 8:7 vote.


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