The Slovenia Times

Trade Unions Strongly Against Govt Reform Programme


"The basic idea of the programme is that there is no change in the economic policy we drafted last year that we are implementing but has not yet produced all the results expected," Čufer told reporters after the document, which needs to submitted to Brussels, was discussed on the Economic and Social Council.

One of the centrepieces of the reform programme is a 5% cut in the public sector wage bill, coupled with an overall streamlining of the public sector, which prompted the KSJS confederation of public trade unions to call for withdrawal of the measures it says are based on "utter cynicism".

On the one hand, the government is planning to turn interim austerity measures into permanent ones, to interfere in pensions and public sector pay, while on the other hand it is promising greater prosperity for citizens, KSJS boss Branimir Štrukelj told the STA on the sidelines of the industrial forum.

He went a step further in his address to delegates representing 74,000 members of trade unions associated in the KSJS at the confederation's congress in Ljubljana. He said the government's insisting on an additional cut in pay would "lead to conflict".

Čufer meanwhile appeared to have taken a step back, telling reporters that the proposed 5% cut in the public sector wage bill was still a matter of negotiation. "The National reform Programme is a rough direction of our course, while we are yet to agree the details."

He rejected the reproach that the government was but following instructions from Brussels. "The programme is a document that is also intended for dialogue with Brussels, but we are certainly not following their dictate," he said, adding that the government was drafting an economic policy "that is best for long-term sustained economic growth and prosperity in Slovenia".

Still, the employers believe that the planned reform programme is not comprehensive enough, while the country's biggest trade union association, ZSSS, called for more investment and creation of new jobs, instead of austerity, which its executive secretary Andrej Zorko said would only reduce consumption.

"Some reforms, including those in labour market and privatisation, ought to be more resolute," Goran Novković of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said. The Chamber is unhappy with the tax wedge on labour, especially highly-skilled staff, and wants a cap on contributions.

The Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) finds that the draft reform programme puts too little weight on measures to boost employment in the private sector. "Considering this document, no major structural change is to be expected," OZS official Ivan Jani Ulaga said.


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