Police trade union takes action to warn about abuse

Ljubljana – The SPS police trade union has submitted to parliament an initiative to collect signatures from citizens in support of amendments to the employment relationships act that would make conditions for reprimanding employees before dismissal stricter and more specific. The SPS warns the disciplinary measure has been abused in the police force.

SPS head Kristjan Mlekuš said on Monday the proposed amendments would put an end to the current practice that subjects both public and private sector employees to the arbitrary power of their superiors. The bill would cover all the employed in Slovenia, not just those in the public sector.

The reasons for the proposal include misuse of a disciplinary measure of issuing a warning to police officers before termination of employment seen in the past year, said Mlekuš.

He highlighted the case of a Friday rally protestor taking a photo with a police officer which, in May 2020, raised a lot of dust and drew criticism from government officials, and the case of police officers who were given such a reprimand due to commenting on social media.

But the most blatant example of such an abuse was, he said, warnings before dismissal given to three senior Ljubljana Police Department officers for their conduct at a protest rally on 25 June. That day, Slovenia’s Statehood Day, saw the police escorting away the far-right Yellow Jackets group.

“This [disciplinary] measure, which was abused by Police Commissioner Anton Olaj, is not the reason for submitting the petition, but it has triggered this,” said Mlekuš, adding that the case clearly demonstrated that employers had too powerful a weapon in their hands to discipline employees.

The SPS thus aims to make conditions for reprimanding employees before termination of employment stricter and more specific to prevent this measure from being left to the arbitrary discretion of superiors. For example, under the bill, the condition of breach of the employment contract would have to be met to impose such a measure.

The second solution would introduce into the law the possibility of a legal remedy against the disciplinary measure. Moreover, employers would not be able to launch a dismissal procedure until a final decision on the measure.

The trade union also proposes that all such reprimands issued before the implementation of the amendments would no longer be effective. The SPS would allow a three-month period for employers to reissue the reprimand in line with the new procedure, Mlekuš said.

The proposal was submitted to the National Assembly today. Speaker Igor Zorčič now has to set a 60-day timeframe for collecting the necessary 5,000 signatures of support from voters. The SPS expects the deadline will be set as soon as possible.

Although submitting the petition does not require the collection of signatures of support, the SPS has nevertheless already collected more than 3,000 signatures. The union is calling on citizens to contribute their signatures and is asking other trade unions and NGOs to help collect them.