By: Sara Rančigaj / Nova24tv
The unions have decided to withdraw from the announced strike before the election and are postponing it to the time after the election. “In the negotiating group of representative public sector unions, we do not agree that the government is abusing unions to achieve its goals in the election campaign, so we have decided not to carry out strike activities before the election,” they said. The next government will also face challenges related to the demands of the public sector, which does not intend to withdraw from the call for higher wages in the future and will prepare strike demands during the election campaign.
The Negotiating Group of Representative Public Sector Trade Unions received a response from the government dated February 23rd, 2022, in which it responds to SVIZ and other addressees regarding further negotiations in the field of public sector wages. “In the Negotiating Group of Representative Public Sector Unions, we examined the answer in the light of current circumstances at home and in the surrounding area and made decisions,” said the Pergam Group of Representative Public Sector Trade Unions.
The government responded to the decision to declare a public sector strike by saying that it is ready to discuss systemic solutions and reform of the public sector wage system with all public sector unions, including in the run-up to the elections, so that solutions can be implemented as soon as possible, “so that weeks of precious time are not wasted”.
The government also emphasised that it will not irresponsibly accept the additional systemic burdens on public finances (we must not forget that we have taken debt due to measures) to the detriment of the next term, as there is no legal basis for them in existing budget documents. As the Constitutional Court has retained even a temporary legal basis for urgent temporary solutions in the most pandemic-burdened part of the public sector, permanent solutions are even less possible and justified at this time. “Any strikes in the public sector in this pre-election period are therefore unjustified and will be understood only as part of a political campaign contrary to the election law. Such strikes also will not be paid from the budget,” they stressed.
In Pergamum, however, they initially say that the government has been avoiding dialogue with public sector unions since May 2021. “It does not use arguments, but demagogic references to data that do not have a transparent and credible methodological basis (providing data on wage growth by individual activities), by selectively shifting responsibility to the next government (regarding negotiations on changes to the wage system) and by inconsistently referring to responsibility regarding the bases in budget documents and the public finance consequences of a possible agreement with trade unions (however, it is not concerned about the basis in the budget documents and the public finance consequences of the tax reform, which it calls for in the same document),” they said.
The strikes will not take place before the elections
The unions have decided to take a step back and will not carry out the announced strikes before the elections. “In the negotiating group of representative public sector unions, we do not agree that the government is abusing unions to achieve its goals in the election campaign, so we have decided not to carry out strike activities before the election,” they said. This decision was also fuelled by the uncertain foreign policy and security situation in recent days, and finally, the epidemiological situation, which, despite the government’s impression of a sudden release before the election, is still not innocent.
However, this does not mean that the trade unions in the Negotiating Group of Representative Public Sector Trade Unions deviate from trade union activities. Most unions in the negotiating group of representative public sector unions have decided to go on strike soon after the constitution of the new National Assembly, if the parties represented in the National Assembly do not immediately start negotiations with public sector unions. “The next government, which will be voted on by the new composition of the National Assembly, will not have a hundred days of peace on the part of public sector unions,” they warned.
After the election, they will fight for the payment of public workers
They estimate that all the demands of the public sector unions addressed to the government are still current and legitimate. With inflation and the movement of the minimum wage, they will become more and more topical, and the issue will become more and more pressing. This is especially true of the real decline in the value of pay grades and the balancing among the lowest paid civil workers, most notably employees of salary group J. “These government moves on the one hand, and the government’s complete passivity in resolving the accumulated problems have caused enormous and difficult-to-repair damage to public sector wages,” they said.
That is why the Negotiating Group of Representative Public Sector Trade Unions insists that eliminating this damage, eliminating the accumulated problems, and realising the given commitments will have to be one of the first tasks of the new convocation of the National Assembly and the government after the elections.
Public sector unions will use the time of the election campaign to prepare for strike activities. They will demand clear and concrete answers from political parties regarding the issues of the existence and changes of the single wage system, respect for the given commitments and their realisation, and regarding the revival and management of social dialogue. “We will also loudly point out the responsibility of the current government and the coalition government for the commitments they made with a fig in their pocket, for breaches of their commitments, for deliberately destroying social dialogue, for depriving workers of their voices and for the harmful consequences of unilateral decisions,” they warned.
However, the current government will have to adjust wage class values on a regular basis
The negotiating group of representative public sector unions is also convinced that the pre-election period does not release the government from the statutory obligation to negotiate the harmonisation of wage classes, which according to Article 5 of the Public Sector Wage System Act should start no later than May 1st of the current year. “In anticipation of the government’s compliance with its legal obligation and immediate negotiations with the unions on wage adjustment, considering the more than ten-year wage freeze and high inflation, we urge it to immediately start negotiations on the harmonisation of the value of salary grades, in accordance with Article 5 of the Public Sector Wage System Act,” they concluded.