Review Hari Stefanatos
The distance between the Slovenian government and the trade unions is chaotic, leaving little room for an agreement regarding the fresh set of measures for cuts on the public sector wage bill brought forth by the government.
The new measures have been rejected wholesale by the union leaders, whose position is that there should be an extension of existing measures and are willing to discuss only minor tweaks.
The Slovenian government rejected the unions’ proposals for a voluntary shorter working week, reduction of the bonus for years of service and lower lunch allowance, as well as lower compensation for commuting costs. These measures were set to replace the existing measures that will expire at the end of 2014.
Public Administration Minister, Boris Koprivnikar (photo), refrained from specifying what was on the table, although he said that a cut in the seniority bonus was a step to the right direction, since it would offer “junior employees, those with the lowest wages, something specific while shifting a larger portion of the burden on those who are better off and have worked longer”.
The measures proposed by the unions would save EUR 80 million, as opposed to the EUR 127 million off the wage bill from last week’s proposal. Unions will only discuss the extension of existing savings measures and they are willing to debate the shorter working week and commuting costs, but they consider all other measures unacceptable.
Branimir Štrukelj, the head of the confederation of public sector unions stated: “we have not made any major breakthrough today”, with the negotiations set to continue next week during which time the government will weigh the reaction of the unions and possibly proceed in making small changes in its proposal.
“As I understood it, the minister will check with the broader government circle on how to continue the talks and how the government’s proposal could be changed”, according to Štrukelj.
The negotiations are a part of efforts to bring the budget deficit below 3% of GDP next year, a crucial target as the government seeks to achieve EU-imposed targets.