STA, 27 September - Employer representatives announced at Friday's session of the Economic and Social Council (ESS) they were withdrawing from the industrial relations forum because bills were being filed in parliament without any regard for the forum. The trade unions followed suit and the head of the ZSSS trade union confederation resigned as the ESS president.
The latest development that angered the employers was Wednesday's decision of the Left, an opposition partner of the minority government coalition, to end a deadlock in talks with the coalition and table a bill that would in effect abolish supplementary health insurance and replace it with a progressive levy that would increase costs for employers.
Slovenian Employers' Association (ZDS) secretary general Jože Smole told the STA that this had been just the most recent blow, with the council being completely sidetracked under this government. He went on to list several pertinent legislative proposals, all of which were tabled by the Left.
Smole said it all began with the raising on the minimum wage, continued with the proposal to raise wages for students and later with proposed changes to the labour relations act that would give all parents a paid day off on their child's first school day.
Smole stressed that even though all of these changes had a major impact on the social partners, they had not been supplied with any material, analysis, calculations "on the basis of which we could discuss things, let alone decide on them".
"Social dialogue is dead," he said, adding that legislative proposals could no longer be affected by the social partners once they were filed in parliament.
The ball is now in the court of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Smole summarised the position of the employers.
Commenting on the situation, Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer told the STA that she had warned the Left on several occasions that "this is not how things should be done".
The filing of bills without coordinating them with the ESS also bothers the representatives of trade unions, who thus joined the employers, the ZSSS's Lidija Jerkič told the STA, adding she also resigned as the council's head. Her term would have expired at the end of October.
The employers said they were withdrawing until further notice, while Klampfer said she would try to solve the situation as soon as possible.
Notably, before suspending the forum, the social partners okayed both legislative proposals on the agenda of the session, one dealing with the minimum monthly unemployment benefit and the other equalising women's and men's pension rates for those with 40 years of pensionable service.
The Labour Ministry wants to increase the minimum monthly unemployment benefit from EUR 275 net to EUR 392 net while simultaneously stiffening conditions.
The proposed EUR 530 gross, or EUR 392 net, would level the minimum unemployment benefit with the basic minimum income for single-person households.
As for the pension rate, the plan is to increase it to 63.5% of the long-term average wage by 2025. This rate is already in place for women, while for men it presently stands at 57.25%.