By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv.si
The Trade Union of Worker’s in trade sector of Slovenia (SDTS) said that they have enough of the existing situation, as high inflation puts workers on the brink of survival. They started by collecting signatures of a petition, with which they strive for higher wages and better working conditions. The threat of a strike comes at a time when the government of Robert Golob is responding to inflation, which is already raising the price of basic necessities, by raising taxes, which will further worsen the quality of life.
According to the union, workers who are employed in commercial activities are becoming more and more dissatisfied with the current economic situation and working conditions. Galloping inflation puts them on the edge of survival, and low wages do not guarantee a decent way of life.
Since workers face low reimbursements for food (only 4.81 euros) and transportation to work (70 percent of the price of a monthly ticket), they cannot afford the most basic things themselves. This means that they are forced to pay extra for transport and lunch themselves. At the same time, they are also faced with additional burdens, which include staffing shortages, sick leave, and exhaustion. The latter can even lead to disability.
The SDTS warned that employment in trade is not attractive to young people. The same applies to the unemployed. “Such working conditions and wages do not represent a challenge and an opportunity for a decent life,” they explain.
When we were faced with the coronavirus epidemic and many businesses were not operating, the workers in the trade activity were working. In doing so, they were directly exposed to the possibility of infection on a daily basis. “Despite everything, in the given conditions, they generated excellent traffic, they were without any bonus,” warned the union critically, warning that a new wave of infections is predicted again in the coming months, and merchants do not want to be victims of the system again and suffer damages and consequences.
They made six demands
The union emphasised that they decided to create a petition with the aim of proving to the employers that they are serious and that there will be no deviation from the six demands. They are demanding higher wages, adding that the minimum basic wages for salespeople and warehouse employees must be up to the minimum wage without any additional payment. Regarding the reimbursement of expenses for meals during work, they require that the amount is sufficient to pay for a hot meal and amount to 6.12 euros, which is also determined in accordance with the Regulation on the tax treatment of reimbursements of expenses and other income from the employment relationship. In other words, it must be coordinated with the regulation.
“Reimbursement of transportation costs to and from work must ensure the payment of the entire daily ticket,” the union emphasised, adding that in cases where there is no possibility of using public transportation, workers should be allowed to be paid by the mileage. In the petition, they demand that the annual leave allowance be paid in full in currency. “It must amount to at least 1,400 euros, which is 120 percent of the minimum wage”.
They also want the employment contract to precisely specify the place where the work is performed. “The employer must ensure that there will be enough staff in the branches to cover possible absences due to sick leave, vacations…”. Finally, they advocate for the regulation of working hours. In doing so, they emphasised the importance of consistent compliance with the Collective Agreement for Slovenian trade activities. “Preparation for work and completion of work must be counted as working time everywhere, as well as trainings and meetings,” they emphasised and added that the system of recording working hours should be changed so that every minute spent at the workplace is counted.
In case of non-response and possible ignorance on the part of the employers, a strike is possible
“With the changes, we want to ensure a better standard of living for workers, not just survival from month to month. In case of non-response and possible ignorance on the part of the employers, we will be forced to intensify the trade union activities, even with a strike,” they warned and invite all those concerned by the petition to sign it in their workplaces by September 22nd.
Will the government listen to their demands and reconsider the tax reform, which will also result in lower wages for traders? Or will it rather keep planting flowers saying how socially conscious it is? We probably all agree that everyone who works honestly deserves a decent life. Especially in light of the fact that it is the workers who are responsible for the flow of money into the state coffers.