Public Sector Unions Sign €308m Pay Deal

By , 05 Dec 2018, 10:20 AM Politics
Public Sector Unions Sign €308m Pay Deal, Alexas_Fotos CC-by-0

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STA, 3 December 2018 - Representatives of the government and trade unions on Monday signed annexes to the collective agreements in the public sector securing rises in pay and bonuses for a majority of employees. Several unions have pulled out of the deal today, which however has no effect on its validity.

The agreement, worth around EUR 308m in the 2019-2020 period and including pay increases of between one to four brackets and increases of some bonuses, means that the strike wave announced for the beginning of December has been averted.

The measures, which will be introduced gradually, include the promotion by one wage bracket or around 4% higher wages for public sector employees up to the 26th wage bracket.

Wages for a majority of employees above the 26th wage bracket will increase by two wage brackets, while employees at posts which require a master's or PhD degree in science or specialisation will see their wages rise by three brackets.

Head teachers and nurses and midwives at the most demanding positions will get additional pay raises.

Holiday pay and bonuses also rising

The deal also increases some bonuses such as those for work on Sundays (from 75% to 90% of the hourly rate), holidays (from 90 to 120%) and for night work (from 30% to 40%) as of 1 September 2019.

It also introduces a bonus for 40 years of service (EUR 577.51) and raises pension severance from two to three average salaries, or three employee's salaries if it is higher than the average.

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec attended the signing and thanked the negotiators, saying that "what has been negotiated is the best that could be achieved," adding that the agreement "means that agreements can still be made in this country".

Šarec thanked the trade unions for understanding that the situation in the budget did not allow for more. "This is the moment when we can look each other in the eye and say that 'we have been reasonable'," he added.

Noting that the trade union representatives had realised the expectations of the employees, he added that the government and trade unions were not opponents, but should make possible that "people who work every day live a decent life".

Not all unions happy

Several unions have, however, pulled out of the deal, including the trade union of workers in the judiciary, which has given the government three months to meet its demands, otherwise it would step up its strike activities.

The decision was made after members of the union responded negatively to its representatives initialling the deal with the government. The union said that the government "did not want to enter a written commitment to actually sort out the situation in the judiciary."

The trade union of the Ministry of Defence also said today it would not sign the deal until the decree on the classification of jobs and titles in the Slovenian Armed Forces into wage brackets was harmonised and confirmed by the government in accordance with the initialled agreement.

Also refusing to sign the agreement were representatives of the KSS trade union confederation, which associates the trade unions of healthcare workers SPUKC, the trade union of accounting workers, the municipal traffic wardens' trade union and the SVS soldiers' trade union.

The unions, which did not participate in the negotiations, said in a press release today that the agreement and annexes did not eliminate the austerity measures from the 2012 fiscal balance act.

Police officers remain a sticking point

The government is meanwhile still in talks with police officers, who resumed their strike on 1 October to demand the government to restore pay ratios which were undermined when the government raised pay for some other uniformed workers in 2017.

They also demand a special bonus for each year of service, a bonus for being ready to act at all times, a compensation for not being allowed to join a political party, and the elimination of retirement anomalies.

While there was broad agreement among trade unions that the deal is good, some raised concern about whether there will be enough money for hospitals and elderly homes, which will have to give their employees higher wages.

"We're going to organise a strike as soon as wages are late in the first [public] institution," said Zvonko Vukadinovič, the president of the Trade Union of Healthcare and Social Care.

Health Minister Samo Fakin said there was enough money for everything, but he added that this would be true would only if productivity is increased and waiting lines cut, describing poor work organisation as "the cancer of Slovenian healthcare."

Public Administration Minister Rudi Medved likewise said the unions did not have to worry, since there would be enough money through 2021, the period for which the agreement is valid.

Related: Find out the average pay for various jobs in Slovenia here

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