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Among the achievements of the presidency, Minister Janez Cigler Kralj highlighted the contribution to improving working conditions

By: L.K.F.

Among the achievements of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj emphasised the contribution to improving working conditions in the Union in his field. A final agreement has been reached on the protection of workers against carcinogens, and a major step has been taken in two wage directives.

“The Slovenian presidency has placed people at the center of the presidency in the field of employment, social policy and equal opportunities,” Minister Janez Cigler Kralj told at a news conference today. He set himself two priorities – creating resilient and inclusive labour markets and creating resilient and inclusive societies in the EU, and the presidency was very successful, he added.

Directive on the protection of workers from carcinogens

In the field of resilient and inclusive labour markets, the Minister highlighted the final agreement on the proposal for a directive on the protection of workers from carcinogens as a key contribution of the Slovenian Presidency. It will make jobs in the EU healthier, safer and more sustainable, he said, adding that it would protect more than a million workers. “I was shocked to learn that more than 100,000 people die each year because they are exposed to carcinogens in the workplace,” he said.

As important, he also mentioned, the agreements in the EU Council on two important and resounding legislative proposals, namely the proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages and the proposal for a directive on the transparency of payments. The directive on adequate minimum wages could increase minimum wages in more than half of the Member States and have a positive effect on more than 25 million workers in the EU. “With it, we want to achieve decent pay for honest work,” said Cigler Kralj, who said it was even more important that those who work should not be poor. For the time being, the amount of the minimum wage in Slovenia will not be affected by the directive.

Equal pay for women and men for equal work

Regarding the proposal for a directive on the transparency of pay, he said that it would have a significant impact on preventing discrimination and guaranteeing the right to equal pay for women and men for equal work. The aim of the directive is to regulate the inadequate exercise of the fundamental right to effective payment, which he considers a major step.

The Slovenian Presidency also managed to reach an agreement with the European Parliament on a proposal for a regulation on the coordination of social security systems, but the EU Council did not approve it, he added.

The largest event in the field of the labour market and social policy, organised by Slovenia during its presidency, was an informal meeting of EU ministers for employment and social policy in Brdo pri Kranju in July, STA reports. It focused on the conditions for recovery from the covid-19 epidemic and the successful recovery of economies. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Western Balkan countries and together they adopted a declaration on ensuring the sustainable integration of young people into the labour market. On this basis, countries in the region will receive European money for the implementation of youth guarantee schemes. “This has opened up new hope for young people in the labour markets of these countries,” said Cigler Kralj.

Conferences on guarantees for children, human rights and the rights of persons with disabilities

In the field of resilient and inclusive society, the Slovenian Presidency focused on the most vulnerable in our society, and Cigler Kralj highlighted the conference on guarantees for children, calling for intensified efforts to reduce poverty and social exclusion in the EU.

Participants in the November conference on human rights for all ages noted that a person ages from birth onwards and not just in later years. In the same month, a conference on the rights of persons with disabilities was held, at which they called for strengthening multimodal mobility and accessibility, which the Minister considers crucial for greater participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities in society.

As President of the EU Council in the field of labour market and social policy, Cigler Kralj also hosted the inaugural meeting of the European Platform against Homelessness. It is a commitment of member states to significantly reduce homelessness in the EU by 2030, he explained.

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