The Slovenia Times

Businesses upset as minister proposes mandatory Xmas bonus

Politics

Ljubljana - Labour Minister Luka Mesec has caused upset among business officials after announcing legislative changes that would include a proposal for a mandatory Christmas bonuses. The proposal has been described as populist and ill-timed at a time when companies are grappling with high energy prices.

"Our ministry has proposed introducing a mandatory Christmas bonus, that is an extra allowance. If passed, employees will get an allowance equalling the minimum wage this winter," Mesec was reported to have said at a meeting of the association of employers in trade crafts ans small business yesterday.

The president of the chamber representing the same sector, Bla┼ż Cvar rejected the proposal in the strongest terms on Wednesday, pointing to the energy crisis.

"Traders and entrepreneurs are fighting for the survival of their businesses and preservation of jobs. Mandatory Christmas bonus would be an additional burden that many cannot afford at the moment," the head of the OZS chamber commented.

The chamber advocates decent pay, but believes Christmas bonuses should be voluntary. "We are convinced those employers who can afford it will reward their employees and pay a Christmas bonus," Cvar wrote in a written response.

Several food industry representatives lambasted the proposal on the sidelines of Wednesday's session of the Chamber of Agricultural and Food Companies.

Danilo Kobal of Mlinotest said the proposal was unnecessary at the moment. Mlinotest, a bread and pasta company, regularly pays out Christmas bonus. If the minister's proposal is adopted, the company will have to change the amount of the bonus.

Janez Rebec of the poultry company Pivka Perutninarstvo said the proposal was ill-timed, and the food industry would face liquidity problems.

"I certainly believe that everyone distributes as much as they can even now. Our industry doesn't have excessive profits, the returns are quite modest, as the value added is quite low, at 40,000 euros," he said, adding that such proposals should be passed through social dialogue.

Izidor Krivec, CEO of meat processing company Celjske Mesnine, finds the proposal populist. It is right that workers partake when there are profits, but this year most companies in the sector will suffer losses, he said. "If we have to give out of this, it will be just another nail in the coffin of the food industry."

Meanwhile, Branko Virag of Panvita, proposed considering reducing the tax wedge on labour to allow employees to get more.

As expected, trade unions have hailed the proposal for a mandatory Christmas bonus.

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