The Slovenia Times

Wage Bill for Schools to Be Cut by 10% in 2013


The wage bill for scientific institutions is to be cut by 8% from 2012 or 19% from 2011, and for public institutions working in culture it is being reduced by 10% from 2012 and by 17% compared to last year. Universities are to get 8% less than in 2012 and 16% less than in 2011.

On average the ministry will need to reduce its labour costs by around 15% compared to 2011, according to the minister, who said some of the cuts had already been made through austerity measures and in the 2012 supplementary budget, but the bulk of the saving will need to be done in 2013.

The government adopted the 2013 and 2014 budgets yesterday after extensive negotiations, the minister said, explaining that he had informed the key stakeholders in education, science and culture about the proposed budget.

He said there was great concern in the sectors under the ministry and announced that crisis coordination committees would be set up with representatives of the ministry, trade unions, public institutions and other stakeholders.

When looking for solutions in schools for example, differences will need to be made between those who teach and the administration, the minister noted, adding that some areas had as much as 40% of administrative staff.

Nives Počkar, the head of the association of secondary school principals, said there was still confusion about the numbers, but that it was clear that they meant pay cuts and layoffs, since secondary schools have no reserves.

She sees possible solutions to avoid layoffs in changing norms or increasing teachers' workload.

Turk explained that the cuts were necessary in the view of the difficult situation in the public finances - which has only deteriorated since July when next year's budget was first debated - since Slovenia is unable to get loans on the financial markets to finance the functioning of the state, the public sector and various transfers.

However, the minister said it "hurt" him to see that the four areas covered by his ministry were treated similarly to bureaucrats at ministries and in the state administration, without privileges given to health care, the military, police, judiciary and even the government's legal service or the government think-tank IMAD.

He said the argument of the Finance Ministry was that the growth of the wage bill in the areas of his ministry had been above average over the last years, but noted that different information has been circulating in the public.

The modest increase in the ministry's funding is a "drop in the ocean", Turk stressed, adding that the ministry was now calculating the impact of the proposed budget, especially for science, higher education and culture.

However, some optimism can be found in this being the last cut and in the fact that stabilisation of funding in this sector is expected in 2014, he noted.

The ministry's funding is to increase by around 2% compared to the 2012 supplementary budget, mostly on account of higher EU funding, which Turk hopes will help cover the most severe problems stemming from the cuts.

Teachers' trade union SVIZ responded to Turk's announcements of the cuts in the wage bill, saying they would use all the means available to prevent such a catastrophe.

Pointing to a report on European teachers' pay published by the European Commission, the union stressed that Slovenia was among the countries where teachers were hit the most by austerity measures.

SVIZ secretary general Branimir Štrukelj expressed wonder how the minister could persist on his position, giving an example of his Slovakian counterpart who resigned over much lower cutting plans.

He said Turk should take strong actions to defend the education, science and culture, which are being trampled on, instead of "crying in front of cameras" about how he is hurt by the government's decisions.


More from Nekategorizirano