By: Vida Kocjan
Robert Golob’s government, including the Association of Pensioners of Slovenia (ZDUS), led by Janez Sušnik, and the country’s president, Nataša Pirc Musar, is literally making fun of pensioners and the disabled. On the one hand, it states that there is no money for pensioners and the disabled, on the other, it flaunts it and pays favours to those who enabled it to rule.
With 10.5% inflation, such as the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia for March 2023, pensions increased by only 5.2% in a year. Electricity prices rose by 49 percent, food prices by 19 percent, meat by 18 percent, bread and cereal products by 20 percent, and milk, cheese, and eggs by 24.4 percent. Housing costs were higher by 19.9 percent.
Until Golob’s government, pensions and disability benefits were coordinated both regularly and exceptionally. With this government coalition (Gibanje Svoboda, SD, and Levica), things changed. In September 2022, the Institute for Pension and Disability Insurance (ZPIZ) forwarded a letter to the government of Robert Golob, in which they wrote that all the conditions for the 4.4% extraordinary adjustment of pensions had been met. Golob’s coalition did not respond to the letter and did not coordinate pensions in the fall. Instead, it threw sand in the pensioners’ eyes, they were paid a 4.5% supplement for November and December. At first, they claimed that it was an extraordinary reconciliation, but when they were confronted with the fact, they only admitted that it was a one-time addition. Pensioners with the lowest pensions received 13 euros per month for two months, while those with the highest received more than 150 euros. This was exactly the opposite of what Janša’s government intended for pensioners.
April Fool’s Day – April 1st
On January 1st, a 5.2% regular adjustment of pensions, established by law, followed. Adjusted for inflation, the adjustment rate was halved. And that was it. When the pensioners announced protest rallies, the ruling public tried to smear the eyes with the news that the ZPIZ proposed to the government an additional 3.5% extraordinary adjustment for all pensioners, namely from April 1st, 2023. This was strongly propagated by the ZDUS as well. However, it turned out that the date of April 1st was clearly chosen deliberately. Namely, that is a day of liars and so it was in this case as well. The government again ignored ZPIZ by explaining that there is no money in the budget.
And the President of the Country?
Last Tuesday, March 28th, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar, hosted a meeting in the presidential palace, where they discussed current challenges in the field of care for the elderly, the office announced. Among those invited to the meeting we could not see representatives of the popular initiative Voice of the Pensioners or the October 1st Institute, headed by Pavel Rupar. The conclusion of the meeting with Pirc Musar was that the position of pensioners is bad and needs to be “completely improved”. So, nothing new. After that, Nataša Pirc Musar did not think it was worth it to take part in the third all-Slovenian protest rally of pensioners, to which she was invited.
The third all-Slovenian rally
On Friday, March 31st, the third all-Slovenian gathering of pensioners took place at the Republic Square in Ljubljana, which was also extended to other groups. The number of participants in the rally is increasing every time. According to Pavel Rupar, according to official figures, as he said at the end, around 42 thousand people took part in the third protest rally, among them many younger people who have not yet retired.
The rally started with Slovenian music; many Slovenian flags were flying. Afterwards, the protesters went for a walk through the streets of Ljubljana while singing local songs. When they returned to the platform in front of the parliament, Pavel Rupar stepped on stage and said: “We will start each meeting with good wishes and the prayer of the Lord’s Prayer.” He greeted the patients in particular. The Slovenian national anthem followed, conducted by Pavel Rupar. Nina Medved took the stage and read a letter from a retired nurse. “Medical staff are shamefully underpaid, and as a result, so are pensions,” she said, welcoming the establishment of the October 1st Institute. “Stay healthy, support the Voice of Pensioners,” she said.
You are invited to the gathering
Just before 4 pm, Rupar once again greeted everyone who is fed up with the ruling clique after only 10 months. He said that they invited Robert Golob, Luka Mesec, Urška Klakočar Zupančič and the country’s president Nataša Pirc Musar. However, Jaša Jenulla and Nika Kovač were not invited because of the “Rupar’s safety”, as he said. He then warned of the general worsening of the situation, that we are heading for bankruptcy. He called on Robert Golob to resign. He is especially disappointed with Nataša Pirc Musar, who did not respond to the letter in which they asked her to stand up for them. He urged her: “Do not humiliate this crowd! … We are not part of any party; we are only united by hardship and struggle and a proud Slovenian heart!”
Golob and Sušnik should resign! Petition!
He pointed out that October 1st Institute requests an audit of the ZPIZ, which should be carried out by the Court of Auditors. He also demanded to be included in the negotiations regarding the pension reform and the removal of Janez Sušnik from the post of ZDUS president. He warned that Klakočar Zupančič rejects their bill for an immediate increase in pensions. He emphasised that they will insist on the demands regarding the increase of pensions (minimum 750 euros…).
Rupar continued that the government is announcing drastic and senseless measures, all of which are to the detriment of pensioners. They have completely lost their compass; the crisis is visible from space. “We have to put an end to this as soon as possible,” he added. The authorities do not listen, they do not respond to initiatives and letters. He thanked the Slovenian farmers for their support and called on the trade unions to join. “Pensioners are the only citizens who have really been erased for years and years,” Rupar said, adding that these people deserve a monument and glory because they built the country and respect it.
Finally, he announced to Robert Golob: “Dear Mr. Golob, it is time for you to fly away!” The crowd applauded loudly. Rupar urged them to persevere and added: “Let’s stay Slovenian.”
The October 1st Institute also created a petition to secure pensioners’ rights, which they will submit to the parliamentary committee for human rights and equal opportunities. The petition is available on the institute’s website https://drustvo1oktober.si/.
Klakočar Zupančič ran away, Mesec hid
Urška Klakočar Zupančič, President of the National Assembly, locked the door and placed a “guard” in front of the entrance. She herself went to the presentation of her book in Črnomelj, accompanied by Svetlana Makarovič. The rally took place peacefully both on the platform and in the streets in the centre of Ljubljana. The square and the streets remained clean, without litter, the complete opposite of the times of cycling under the leadership of Jaša Jenull.
Luka Mesec, the competent minister, and deputy prime minister, otherwise coordinator of the Levica party, did not dare to confront the pensioners. Instead, he preferred to sound wise via social networks, where he wrote that the government is aware of the plight of pensioners, “the government is trying to fix it, but it will not happen overnight.” However, he did not explain why he does not accept pensioners’ representatives for a conversation, why he does not respond to their e-mails, and why he does not come to the rally. In one of the TV shows before that, he said that the pensioners will still wait for the rescue. As always, money is an excuse.
There is enough money
But there is enough money in the budget for everything else, except for pensioners and the disabled. Thus, on April 1st, the government increased wages in the public sector for the second time in six months. Their salaries were increased by four percent in October, and by another four percent in April. The government estimated the financial impact of the October agreement at 611 million euros. According to them, this also included 600 euros per month for each employee employed in the judiciary (prosecutors, judges). At the same time, the government is preparing a draft of a new salary system in the public sector, where it is also correcting the salary ratio from the current 1 to 4 to 1 to 7. The latter means that the government is also correcting salaries for themselves, the highest basic gross salary is expected to be 8,465.50 euros (almost for a third more than it is now).
Money for migrants, for their leaders
Not only salaries in the public sector, but the government is also accelerating public tenders for the needs of illegal migration. They ordered buses for transporting migrants from the Slovenian southern border to Ljubljana in the amount of half a million euros. New tenders for migrant footwear and clothing and many other things have been published.
Last week, public calls for co-financing of non-governmental organisations resonated strongly with the public. Four tenders with a total value of 11 million euros were published. Tenders were published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (three with a total value of 355 thousand euros) and the Ministry of Public Administration (worth 10.645 million euros).
We therefore asked the Ministry of Agriculture why they decided on this tender, whether it is coordinated with the coalition, what its purpose is and what effects they expect. We were also interested in whether this is a reward for individual non-governmental organisations. We were told that the Ministry “supports the integration of interests in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural development in various ways”. “Knowledge, creativity and innovation are the keys to the successful development of Slovenian agriculture, so for many years we have been encouraging NGOs to work more intensively in their field by co-financing their activities, professional programs and jubilee events.” Regarding the purpose of the tender, they listed activities from the tender and wrote: “With the aforementioned public tenders, the grouping and integration of interested people in the countryside in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural development is encouraged.” Is this a reward for individual non-governmental organisations? The Ministry did not take a position on this issue. We publish the explanations of the Ministry of Public Administration separately. It is clear from the content of the tender that the selected non-government officials will obviously go around the country and “raise awareness” among the citizens.
Tomaž Lisec: The tenders show all the misery of the current government or disrespect for Slovenian agriculture and tradition
SDS MP Tomaž Lisec: “How deeply we have gone astray is shown by the fact that the current government has announced a public tender for the strengthening of civil rights and the empowerment of non-governmental organisations in this area in the amount of over 10 million euros on the one hand, and on the other hand for three public tenders for granted co-financing of the activities of non-governmental organisations in the fields of agriculture, forestry and rural development in a total amount of up to 355,000 euros. This is not only shameful in terms of the separation of non-governmental organisations, but it shows all the misery of the current government, or disrespect for Slovenian agriculture and tradition. Also, other agricultural measures or inaction shows that, with this trend, Slovenian agriculture will mostly collapse in a few years.”
Anja Bah Žibert: Golob’s government is leading us to destruction at supersonic speed
SDS MP Anja Bah Žibert: “At a time when people are plagued by general poverty and do not know how they will survive the month, Golob’s far-left government continues to reward its non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which on the wings of Friday’s illegal and violent protests brought it to authority. In addition to the already donated 40 million euros of taxpayers’ money, which Voice of the People has already received, Golob’s government will allocate an additional 10 million for the NGO with a new tender. For 50 million, you could build 10 homes for the elderly or as many as 16 kindergartens! While the government is obsessed with selected and privileged non-government people and handing out our money to them, on the other hand, it has no ear or understanding for pensioners, young people, families, farmers and the sick. Our health care system is falling apart, kindergartens, homes for the elderly, home care for the elderly and disabled are being auctioned off. While awarding NGOs, Golob also engages in hate speech, which will henceforth be prosecuted by those who spread it on bicycles every Friday. Unfortunately, not just a few, but a lot of rotten things in this country!”
This was the case during Janša’s government
During the previous government of Janez Janša, despite the crisis situation, pensioners received pension increases in several tranches in a row, and they also received several one-off supplements. More than 300,000 pensioners with low pensions received solidarity allowances. Thus, in just two years of the mandate, pensioners received:
– higher pensions (these have regularly increased three times);
– extraordinary adjustment of pensions;
– triple solidarity allowance (from 135 for the highest to 450 euros for the lowest pensions);
– retroactive corrections of injustices (due to the elimination of backlogs in the coordination of pensions and other benefits, these increased by at least one percent);
– long-term care;
– senior benefits.
The government under Janša’s leadership also promised a 13th and 14th pension in the event of re-election in the April elections, one as a Christmas bonus, the other as an annual holiday. All this is not under Golob.
The Ministry of Public Administration justifies the distribution of public money according to a new tender for non-government officials
We asked the Ministry of Public Administration why they decided on a public tender in the amount of 10.6 million euros for non-government officials, whether it is coordinated with the coalition and whether it is about rewarding leaders and opinion leaders of the so-called Friday cyclists, non-governmental or civil society.
We received a longer answer, where they initially refer to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, which states that the space of civil society must be protected. They then wrote that with the public tender they implement the state’s policy in the field of NGO development and contribute to achieving the goals of the Strategy for the Development of Non-Governmental Organisations and Volunteering until 2023 and to positive social effects. The published tender is intended for non-governmental organisations at the national and local level, whose programmes and projects will encourage people’s participation in consultation and co-decision processes… They did not answer the question of whether it is about rewarding leaders.