The Slovenia Times

Clerks step up their strike

A notice reading STRIKE on the door of the Novo Mesto Administrative Unit. Photo: Aleš Kocjan/STA

Staff at 34 out of Slovenia's 58 administrative units went on all-out strike on 15 May after failing to have their demands for better pay and extra staff met despite staging strikes every Wednesday for the past two months. Staff at another 15 units will continue to hold one-day strikes.

The employees on strike demand for the government to hire more staff to let them cope with an increasing workload and to raise their wages by seven brackets, or roughly 28%.

The administrative units, which provide a range of services from the issue of passports, driver's licences, birth and death certificates, residence and work permits and building permits, as well as verifying voter support for parties wanting to run in elections, have been seeing their workload increase for years, in particular because of documents required by foreigners.

Frančišek Verk, the head of the Trade Union of State Bodies, which represents the clerks, says the issues faced by the employees are the result of the government's long-term neglect of the administrative units.

Dispute over essential tasks

Dragan Stanković of the Trade Union of Administrative Units says that employees of 55 administrative units have so far participated in the strike, noting that there are six units where strike activities have been suspended.

He believes this happened because of "severe, and above all, unlawful pressure" from the heads of administrative units, who determine essential tasks that the staff are required to perform even while on strike.

These are based on a list of tasks issued by the Public Administration Ministry in early May. The unions say that being that it entails virtually all tasks, the list is tantamount to a ban on strike.

The union's legal representative Klemen Golob spoke about "mobbing and bullying" at the workplace, adding that the Labour Inspectorate has been notified and announcing criminal complaints.

The ministry said the list of essential tasks was "proportionate, reasonable and appropriate" and determined in accordance with objective criteria.

Minister Franc Props called the strike a legitimate right of trade unions, but expressed the hope that the heads of units and their employees will provide all the essential services during the strike.

Administrative unit employees also demand a bonus for cash transactions and a €300 monthly gross allowance for all employees until the negotiations on the reform of the public sector wage system are concluded.

Slobodan Vuk, the head of the trade union of employees of the Ljubljana Bežigrad unit, said that they only want the same as others in the state administration.

Pay issues across public sector

Administrative clerks are not the only group on strike over pay and working conditions. Doctors and dentists have been on strike since 15 January and there is no indication that they will reach agreement anytime soon after mediation failed.

Many more groups are unhappy with their pay and after judges mayors have now turned to the Constitutional Court in the hope of securing better pay, which they say is lower than what officials in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are being paid.

The court ruled last year that judge pay is too low compared to two other branches of government and tasked the government and parliament to increase it by 3 January. The ruling is yet to be implemented, and judges are not happy with the government's latest pay proposal.

The government has been insisting on solving wage issues as part of talks under way with all public sector trade unions, with the public administration minister assessing that a point where it could be said that most issues have been agreed on could be reached by the summer.

However, Props says this does not depend solely on the government, which has €1.3 billion at its disposal for this purpose, but also on the trade unions.


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