By: C. R.
On the 1st of March, a large crowd of pensioners from all over Slovenia gathered in Ljubljana’s Republic Square, already before 3 p.m., to demand decent pensions. According to Pavel Rupar, the main speaker of the protest, 28 thousand people came to the rally.
“The rally should show that we can be united, and Slovenian flags are welcome here. Let’s show them that we can be friends, united as one nation! A nation that has always fought, hoped, and remained standing!” Rupar told the crowd before the protest, and he also said that he does not care who anybody voted for, where they came from, which party they preferred or whether they were religious or not. “We are fighting for pensions, for us!” he stressed.
Rupar thanked the national media outlet, Radio-Television Slovenia, for broadcasting the rally, and he also thanked the police and the security officers for providing security. “The next rally will be at the end of the month! And not on the 1st of April, so that the Prime Minister doesn’t think we’re fooling around.” Finally, those gathered at the protest dedicated the song “Planica, Planica …” to the rulers.
15.57 Andrej Peterle, member of the Voice of Pensioners initiative: “I wish I could spend the last days of my life peacefully, doing something beneficial for everyone! We must resist the last resort, euthanasia!”
RTV Slovenia ended the broadcast before the end of the rally.
Rupar showed the crowd a folder containing a bill for a 20-percent increase in pensions of up to 1,000 euros. “For the first time in the history of the country and the protests! We need 5,000 signatures to submit the proposal to the National Assembly! If you all go to the administrative units and add your signatures, there will be more than 30 thousand signatures.”
15.49 Robert Pavlič, founding member of the Association of the 1st of October (Društvo 1. oktober): “The demands we have read are imperative for us. Everything will go in order. This will be the basis for the new law, which concerns a fair increase in pensions. Those with the lowest pensions will get the most, and those with the highest pensions will also get something.
Among other things, the inheritance of fighters’ pensions shall be written into the new law!”
15.43 Igor Črnoga, President of the Association of the 1st of October: “Membership in the Association will be voluntary!” Črnoga also had a few harsh words for the rulers: “Time is no longer on our side. We will make our own legislation if they continue to ignore us! The mountain trembled, but a bird was born. Either they will hear us, or they will have to dance away! Above you is not just a floating sky; we are also there, and there are lots of us!”
15.35 Rupar: “Who cares about Tina Gaber and Urška Klakočar Zupančič‘s red shoes if the nation is hungry! Our money has to be in the pension coffers – unless, of course, it has been stolen! If you got a billion euros practically overnight to cover the Slovenian Power Plants Holding’s expenses, then you will also get it for our pensions! There is enough money! Find it and give it to pensioners! If you were able to open up new ministries, you also have money for pensioners. You have set aside 500 million euros for them. Stop, Mr Prime Minister, we have had ENOUGH of your bluffing!
You do not want us to turn this crowd into a party of pensioners! You will not push us out until you have heard our demands! We have only just begun. The first battles have been won. We’ll see you again in a month! A lot will happen between now and then!”
Rupar also had a few words for the mothers and fathers: “I was wrongly tried by Urška Klakočar Zupančič-type judges, but I didn’t give up! I will not be humiliated and labelled anymore! And you should do the same! Who do they think they are? We will come out of this agony even prouder and, above all, as WINNERS!”
Rupar also reminded the sick that they are not alone either: “Let us become a friendly nation; let us not hate each other anymore!” With tears in his eyes, Rupar thanked everyone at the rally and those who watched it on their televisions.
15.25 Rupar: “We are here to show that we are one nation and that we are not interested in political parties and that we are completely sick of the divisions between communists and fascists, between Janše’s and Golob’s, because we want to live in peace, and we want to be friends with each other. We have money that we have earned, and it is saved in our pension coffers! We are not social problems to be sent to social welfare by the President of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners Associations, Janez Sušnik.”
Rupar also criticised the ruling party: “There is nobody here! You gave up your time for the Jenull crowds, but you dare not come among us. Why have you left us alone? We want to tell you what you owe us: fair pensions! Apparently, you are not awake enough yet – the 5.3 percent raise of our pensions, our defeat and our plight. The first pension adjustment is a mockery for pensioners. What we got to our bank accounts yesterday is 0.0 percent higher than the December pensions. For the ones that now receive up to 1,000 euros a month as their pension, we will fight for your pensions to be raised for another 12 percent!” Rupar also recalled the empty promises of 1,000-euro pensions of the failed politician Karl Erjavec: “Nobody wondered which mafia was behind it.”
15.14 Another speaker pointed out that in many countries, governments would resign with such a large number of dissatisfied people. “We don’t want them to resign and leave because they haven’t shown us anything yet. We are not satisfied. We want the drain on our pension coffers to end once and for all. Give us pensioners back what we gave to the state when we worked in our younger years.”
15.10 The 5.2 percent raise in pensions was described as disgraceful in light of the fact that inflation is over 10 per cent. “That’s why we are here – because we are being made fun of, and I am glad that Pavel, who represented us on the recent episode of the show Tarča, saw the purpose of the programme and left the studio proud and with his head held high. We will fight for our demands, for an immediate raise in all pensions, especially the lowest ones. To be brought into line with inflation every two months. The average net pension should be at least 750 euros. The 13th pension should be written into the Constitution, in addition to a compulsory annual allowance of a uniform amount of 750 euros. Compulsory supplementary insurance and the RTV contribution should be paid by the state for those with the lowest pensions, and widows’ pensions should be 100 percent of the deceased’s pension, if they choose to receive it. We have sent these demands to all the relevant authority figures, and they have not even responded! Making fools of us ends now!”
15.08 One of the initiators of the civil initiative the Voice of Pensioners of Slovenia, pointed out that for now, they are still left without an interlocutor from the government, with the complete ignorance of Prime Minister Robert Golob, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Luka Mesec, and the parliamentary groups of the ruling coalition. “In short, it is as if we do not exist. There are even more of us here today than on the 1st of February, because those mentioned above, who should care about us, are dancing in circles for us, without any effect or results. The Prime Minister has no time for the pensioner crowd.” There was also some criticism at the expense of the show Target, which was very discrediting.
15.00 Rupar welcomed everyone to the pensioners’ rally. He also welcomed those watching the protest on their television screens. “According to some data, there are 28 thousand of us here. Many could not come because of various problems. To cancer patients, to all those in hospitals, to all those in nursing homes and to those who are at home, we want to say that we are thinking of you.” Then the Slovenian national anthem was sung.
Before the protest, a bill was submitted to the National Assembly. They had prepared an amendment to the Pension and Disability Insurance Act, which would raise pensions by 20 percent this year for pensions lower than 1,000 euros, 10 percent for pensions up to 1,500 euros, and 5 percent for pensions higher than 1,500 euros. If the announced extraordinary adjustment were to happen, the minimum pension would also have to be increased by 10 percent. They believe that each pension should be at least 750 euros.
More to follow …