STA, 30 June 2022 - The SDTS, the retail workers' union, said on Thursday that disgruntlement is growing in the sector in the face of stagnating wages despite ever growing profits. "There have been open demands for a strike," it said.
Addressing the press in Ljubljana, SDTS secretary general Ladi Rožič said the union had tested the sentiments with a petition. "We started with retailer Engrotuš and will continue with all major retail companies."
Tina Podbevšek of the Cedra centre for social research added that 640 signatures had been collected in two weeks and that membership of the Tuš Slovenija trade union associated with Engrotuš had grown by 50%.
Several demands have been addressed to employers, foremost among them a raising of the basic wage that the union insists must not be lower than the statutory minimum wage.
Also demanded are full travel costs, a holiday allowance of at least EUR 1,500 without the inclusion of coupons, an end to understaffing practices, and consistent adherence to collective bargaining agreements.
Rožič stressed that in 2021, 90,347 people worked in the sector that more than doubled its net profit from the preceding year to EUR 1.3 billion.
"Salas revenue grew by 25.1% at the annual level or by 5.1% when excluding motor fuels. Turnover grow, profits grew, while wages remain the same," he said.
He added the workforce was becoming smaller each year even though new shops were opening all the time.
Andraž Mali, also from Cedra, said that the focus on profit was built on pressure on suppliers and workers.
"The diving forces here are in particular the retail chains Lidl and Hofer, which are based on low prices and very high labour intensity that is a result of systemic understaffing. Other, more traditional chains in Slovenia, are increasingly following this trend," he explained.
The currently valid collective bargaining agreement envisages a basic pay of EUR 640,71 gross for sales assistants, which Rožič labelled as absurd even if employers are made to pay extra to met the legally prescribed EUR 1,074 minimum.