Police trade union files criminal charges against minister

Ljubljana – The PSS trade union, one of the two trade unions in the Slovenian police force, which started a police strike to demand higher pay this week, has filed criminal charges against Interior Minister Aleš Hojs over his publishing of a document with pay data for nearly 9,000 members of the police force and ministry employees.

The PSS argues the publishing of the document on the first day of the strike was in breach of law. Hojs is suspected of abuse of personal data in relation to other criminal offences that would harm police officers.

The trade union claims that the minister had organised, planned and carried out the publishing of personal data, titles, police units and gross wages of police officers and investigators as a counter measure to the strike with which the union demands higher pay in accordance with a 2018 agreement that ended a previous strike.

The minister thus jeopardised the safety of certain police officers and investigators and caused irreparable damage to those police employees whose identity has been changed because of their undercover work, and those who are exposed to certain additional risks, the PSS says.

As unauthorised persons were given access to personal data of police officers and investigators, a major disturbance was created in internal safety of the state and the Schengen area, the unionists believe.

Not only the safety of police employees but the safety of their family members, children and other citizens they are in contact with has been put in danger, they add.

The minister acted irrationally, irresponsibly, disproportionally and spitefully, and caused irreparable damage, so no apology would do, the trade union says.

The PSS is also bothered by the fact that Hojs does not seem to regret the move but announced he would continue revealing data.

“This manoeuvre did not crush the strike of police employees, but achieved the exact opposite effect,” said the trade union, which filed the criminal complaint through law firm Čeferin, Pogačnik, Novak, Koščak and partners.

The minister dismissed the allegations today, saying that police and ministry pay data were public information under the public sector salary system act. The released data are not labelled classified information, he told the STA.

According to him, the publishing of pay data is thus completely in line with the law. Special internal acts that would be in accordance with the law could be adopted to ensure confidentiality if needed, he said, adding that the police had so far not proposed that.

The ministry’s disclosure of police pay information will also be discussed today by the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services, as questions were raised about potential violation of personal data protection and safety protocols. The Office of the Information Commissioner has said it sees nothing wrong with the document, as public sector pay is public information according to law.