Most Slovenian MEPs welcome EC’s minimum wage proposal

Brussels – Slovenian MEPs have welcomed the standards for setting adequate minimum wages the European Commission presented to the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday. They share the view that workers must receive decent pay for their work, but most believe that the height of the wage should be left in the hands of individual member states.

The standards are geared toward ensuring fair payment and decent life for workers, however, the Commission is not allowed to set wages in member states. It is not proposing the same minimum wage for all states, neither is it looking to align individual minimum wage systems.

The proposal lays down four criteria for setting an adequate minimum wage: purchasing power, the amount and distribution of gross wages, the growth of gross wages and productivity. The objective is to allow those with lowest income to receive at least 50% of average gross wage or 60% of median in individual member states.

Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ) agree with the Commission setting the standards but believe the amount of minimum wage should remain in the hands of member states. They believe that a proposed system of monitoring of the minimum wage protection in each country would perhaps be the most important achievement.

Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) underlined that minimum wage plays a vital role in “creating a decent living in the EU”. She, too, believes that the height of minimum wage should be left to member states, a sentiment also expressed by Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS).

He believes one of the key parts of the proposal is obligation of member states to draft national guidelines, one of them being the ratio between the minimum wage and the average wage, which, he says, has been mostly disregarded in Slovenia.

Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) labelled the proposal as a “historic shift”. She believes it will be key to lay out the criteria for the height of minimum wage because differences in GDP per capita and purchase power among countries are vast. She also underlined that minimum wage must be above the poverty threshold of the region or country of employment.

Milan Brglez (S&D/SD) said he wanted the EU to be more ambitious and hopes the countries will transpose the proposal into national legislations soon. This will also give impetus to efforts for pay rises and fairer payment within the single market. Competitive edge can be built only by “investing in workers” and not by exploiting them, he said.

Romana Tomc (EPP/SDS) was more reserved, saying she supported the “idea of the minimum wage in principle but with substantive limitations”. She finds any sort of obligations based on EU rules that would interfere with established ways of setting minimum wage unacceptable.

She also warned that the amount of minimum wage has an effect on the competitive edge of individual economies, saying a balance must be found between the capabilities of the economy and the rights of workers, who must get decent pay.

Her party colleague Milan Zver (EPP/SDS) also has reservations. “The devil is in the details and the text presented today must be studied closely,” he said, adding that he was curious what businesses will have to say about the proposal.

He also said that if the proposal means a shift for the better for workers, then the matter of jurisdiction is of secondary importance. “But we must not overlook the fact that the EU is quietly, step-by-step, becoming strongly centralised.”