Unions not content with state of labour rights

Ljubljana/Ravne na Koroškem – Slovenian trade unionists highlighted persistent problems with the exercise of labour rights as they pledged in Labour Day speeches that the fight for rights was not yet over.

“We’re far from the ideal when it’s not going to be all about profit, added value and competitiveness, when the human – the worker – becomes the focus,” Lidija Jerkič, president of the ZSSS trade union association, said in a speech in Ravne na Koroškem.

She said the ideal was “a decent life, decent youths and old age” noting that “we have to refocus this world on man, not capital.”

Jerkič also highlighted the many small achievements that have led to the current level of labour rights, noting that the current generation of workers needed to work to preserve these rights for the coming generation.

Ana Čermelj, secretary general of the Trade Union of Small Craft and Small Business, made more specific demands as she addressed an open day ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

According to her, the new government needs to urgently tackle occupational diseases and inequality between private and public sector workers, the former more likely to have lower pensions and savings due to differences in pay and pension insurance.

“There are no first- and second-rate workers, it is necessary to treat people equally,” she said.

The outgoing government has been sharply criticised by unions over the last two years for ignoring social dialogue and passing legislation en masse without consulting stakeholders.

President Borut Pahor made reference to that in his speech today, when he said the new government and trade unions had to “restore trust in dialogue” and join forces in resolving the most pressing issues that concern all citizens.

He said the formation of a new government was the right moment to truly grasp the importance of social dialogue.

Prime Minister Janez Janša made no mention of social dialogue in a written statement issued by his office, in which he listed the outgoing government’s legislative achievements and stimulus spending.

“A lot has been done and I’m proud that the country is in good shape today,” he was quoted as saying.