By: Vida Kocjan
Instead of harmonising the value of the pay grades, the government offered a higher holiday allowance for civil servants up to the 24th pay grade during the negotiations with the public sector unions and wrapped it in a “one-off expensive bonus” in PR and does not want to hear anything about the pay grade adjustment.
Prof. Dr Matej Lahovnik commented on the incident on Twitter with the words: “The minister is acting stupid, as they have already promised to align the pay grades in the public sector with inflation, because otherwise the real income of employees will decrease by 10 percent.”
The unions are outraged by the government’s offer. Golob’s minister, Sanja Ajanović Hovnik (former professional colleague at the SAB), claimed at the presentation of her candidacy for minister of public administration that she intends to deal comprehensively with wage conditions and the demands of the trade unions. Apparently, words were one thing, actions another.
Two weeks ago, the public sector unions agreed with the government to immediately find solutions regarding the harmonisation of the values of the pay grades and the amount (calculation) of this year’s holiday allowance. The agreement would be concluded by the beginning of October 2022, after which they would tackle the elimination of disparities in the evaluation of jobs in the public sector, including the elimination of the adjustment in the lower third of the salary scale.
But now the government side has turned the tables. At the last negotiations, the unions were disappointed and dismayed. They state that the government side has started to ‘pull out’. They add that, with the help of colleagues from the Office for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (Umar), it presented wage trends in the public and private sectors, or a forecast of economic trends. Unions have reportedly been told that none of the seventeen countries from which they are expected to receive data will adjust wages to inflation this year (except Poland, which is not part of the eurozone).
They also said that the government is addressing the changed macroeconomic conditions with its starting points and that it will use various cost-cutting measures.
Thus, Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, for example, considers the calculation of holiday allowance for 2022 to be the most appropriate solution, namely only for employees up to and including the 24th salary grade. They would receive an additional 325 euros (a total of 1,400 euros) of holiday allowance. They do not have concrete proposals regarding employees in higher salary grades, and there should be no harmonisation of the salary grades this year.
However, due to high inflation, the unions are demanding action without delay. They insist that, in particular, harmonising the value of salary classes with inflation (perhaps also with the productivity part) is a necessary measure that should not be postponed and tied to ‘systemic changes’, as Robert Golob’s government imagines.
The unions state that otherwise they will go on strike and other union activities.
This is what Mitja Šuštar from the Union of Nature and Culture of Slovenia, which is part of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS), wrote in a press release. He added that their negotiating team called on the government side, which is not as responsive as it could and should be, to convene meetings with unions in all departments as soon as possible.
Negotiations will resume on July 11th, 2022.