STA, 14 March 2019 - Translators, interpreters and copy editors have produced a white paper on translation to urge more regulation to raise standards governing language-related professions.
The document is a basis for dialogue with Slovenian decision-makers, Barbara Pregelj, one of the 41 women authors behind the project, told the STA on Thursday.
It analyses the situation in these language-related professions, outlines systemic and specific challenges, and brings cases of best practice.
As well as this, it puts these professions into an European framework, explained Pregelj, a member of the project's steering committee.
Since these professions are not regulated, those practising them are often self-employed, which puts them in a weak negotiating position.
Non regulation leads to problems such as precariousness and poor working conditions, affecting the profession's reputation and resulting in poor-quality services.
The document thus calls for regulating the profession of freelance translator and copy editor by setting down the lowest level of education and basic qualifications.
It calls for legislation to determine prices, for overhauling public procurement rules so as not to favour the lowest price and for introducing a sample contract.
A national registry of professional translators, interpreters and copy editors should also be set up, and more oversight introduced of non-professional interpreters, translators and copy editors.
Pregelj pointed to the importance of translation and interpreting for a two-million nation which speaks Slovenian, a language which has globally only few speakers.
"Translation has constituted Slovenian literature and culture and together with interpreting, it articulates it abroad as well as at home."
This makes the White Paper more than just an expression of a demand for giving translation, interpreting and copy editing more credit in Slovenian society, she believes.
While the focus is on translators and interpreters, the White Paper is conceived broader to include copy editors and language advisers, as these fields are interwoven.
The document has been compiled over the past year in collaboration with associations of translators and interpreters plus all Slovenian universities.
It will be presented to the public on 23 April, World Book and Copyright Day.
STA, 13 March 2019 - The association Counselling Office for Workers said on Wednesday that some Slovenian companies, including several large ones, were blackmailing workers from abroad. Most often they demand that the worker reimburse the company for the costs of obtaining their working permit if they leave the company earlier than agreed.
Such a demand is usually included in the worker's employment contract or a special agreement.
Goran Lukić and Goran Zrnić of the Counselling Office for Workers named two companies making such demands, the builder CPG VG and the elastomers and thermoplastics company Siliko.
A contract with CPG VG says that the employer covers the costs of obtaining a working permit for the worker and the costs of their national professional qualification. But if the worker quits their job in less than three years, they must pay EUR 1,500 to cover these costs.
Similarly, Siliko makes a special agreement with its workers stating that the cost to the company for obtaining the working permit for the worker is EUR 500. If the worker quits their job, they must reimburse the company for the sum and any other possible costs, the agreement reads.
The Employment Service responded by saying that under an agreement on the employment of Bosnian citizens in Slovenia these costs must be covered by the employer, so such agreements were "inappropriate or in fact a violation of Article 9 of the agreement".
Lukić also pointed to a ruling by the Koper Labour Court in a similar case involving the company Retrans which says that such deals run contrary to the constitutional right of workers to pick their employer freely and are as such null and void.
All out stories on employment in Slovenia are here
STA, 13 March 2019 - The Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has proposed changes to the pension system under which retirement age for persons without 40 years of pensionable service would gradually increase from the current 65 years to 67 by 2034.
Under the current legislation, employees who do not have 40 years of pensionable service may retire at 65, but receive lower pensions.
The new proposal raises the retirement age for these persons to 67 years by two months a year until 2034, Minister Ksenija Klampfer said as she presented the proposal to the press on Wednesday.
The condition that a person must have 40 years of pensionable service for old-age retirement under 67 years remains in force.
The pension rate for persons with 40 years of pensionable service is proposed to be increased in six years to 63% of the long-term average wage for both men and women. The current rate is 57.25% for men and 60.25% for women.
An additional 1.25 percentage points will be added to the rate to persons who were on parental leave in the first year of the child's life, said Klampfer.
The higher pension rate will allow for higher old-age, widow, disability and family pensions and compensations from disability insurance, the minister explained.
Retired persons will also be able to continue to work after meeting the conditions for old-age pensions and receive 50% of their pensions for three years and then full pension after that, with some safeguards being in place.
There will be certain conditions for this right to be exercised, including that contributions for social security have been paid in full, Klampfer said. At present, pensioners who continue working only get 20% of their pensions.
The proposal follows the solutions agreed on in the coalition agreement, said the minister, noting that in 2025, pensions of persons with 40 years of pensionable service would be by 8% higher on average.
All our stores on employment in Slovenia are here
STA, 8 March 2019 - Slovenia ranks high among EU member states in terms of the proportion of women in senior management positions. However, even as the rate is increasing, it is still far below targets set a few years ago.
Data released by Eurostat ahead of International Women's Day indicate that almost half of managerial positions in Slovenia are filled by women (47%) and one in four senior executives is female.
This places Slovenia fifth among EU member states, with EU average at 36% and 17%, respectively. The data take into account positions in public and private sectors.
While still above EU average, Slovenia is not among the leaders when it comes to the percentage of women on board members of publicly listed companies, which is at 27%, only a percentage point above EU average.
Similarly, data from the European Institute for Gender Equality show that the proportion of women in senior positions in largest listed companies in Slovenia is increasing.
The proportion of women CEOs, executives and non-executives in such companies rose to 24.7% in 2018, the highest in recent years.
Commenting on the figures, the Manager Association said that this was still far from the target of 40% by 2020, set in a EU directive proposal in 2013 by the then Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
The association has been advocating legislative changes to improve gender equality in top corporate positions, pointing to surveys showing companies with gender-balanced managements perform better.
This is also evident from the the Women in Work Index, a survey conducted by Pricewaterhousecoopers, where Slovenia gained one spot to place 4th among the 33 OECD countries.
Consultancy Bisnode has surveyed 18,300 businesses whose chief executives are women, finding that while those represented 25% of the economy, they generated 37% of total revenue and 39% of total profit in 2017, employing 37% of the workforce.
The analysis also showed above-average efficiency of "women businesses", having turned one euro into almost 1.3 euro of profit, which compares to the overall average of 0.9 euro.
Melania Seier Larsen, executive director of Boston Consulting Group and vice-president of the women manager section at the Manager Association, noted disparity between women university graduates and those in senior positions.
"Women represent as much as 58% of graduates, but then there are only 20% women executive directors and only 5% of women are chief executives," she said.
Trends in science are similar; while about as many women as men graduate or even win a PhD degree, the proportion of women as they pursue their careers to regular professorship drops to 17%.
Larsen noted that gender inequality in decision-making positions was huge, quoting World Economic Forum in projecting that at the current pace it would take 100 years to close the gender gap.
The full report, in PDF form, can be found here
STA, 6 March 2019 - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije - GZS) has proposed a reform of the pay system in the corporate sector for 2019-2025 centred around tying wage growth to productivity gains, echoing its long-standing position that pay should be more performance-based.
Under the proposal unveiled on Wednesday, average gross wages would increase by nearly a quarter by 2025, provided that annual productivity gains almost doubled compared to 2014-2018, from 2.7% to 4.8%.
The goal of the proposal is to increase value added per employee to EUR 60,000 and exports to EUR 50bn. In that case, the average gross wage would be EUR 2,000, GZS director general Sonja Šmuc said.
Slovenia's exports amounted to EUR 31bn last year, the average private sector gross wage was at EUR 1,647 in December, whereas value added per employee was EUR 43,000 in 2017, the latest year for which data are available.
"Assuming appropriate productivity gains, the average gross wage could rise by EUR 370," GZS chief economist Bojan Ivanc said.
To achieve the required productivity gains, Slovenia has to step up investments in research and development and improve vocational education, according to Šmuc.
At the same time, wages in the public sector must grow at a slower pace than private sector pay, and the retirement age must gradually converge towards the EU average.
"It is time to talk about this now, not when we already have major problems funding pension," Ivanc pointed out.
The GZS has sent its proposal to all social partners and will now try to reach a consensus. Negotiations are expected to start next week.
Meanwhile, employers and trade unions have voiced reservations about the proposal. An exception is the ZSSS, Slovenia's biggest trade union confederation, which believes the goals could be reached.
Marjan Trobiš, the head of the Employers' Association, expressed surprise that the proposal was presented as having the backing of the entire business sector.
He said that his association had only gotten the text yesterday and had not yet had the chance to become fully acquainted with the document. He is also surprised that negotiations are to start as early as next week.
Igor Antauer, the secretary general of the Trade Crafts and Small Business Employers' Association, said that the proposal had not yet been coordinated among employers.
"It's a shame that somebody was in a hurry ... and that they did not check what would happen to all segments of the private sector not just the industries represented by the GZS."
Pergam trade union head Jakob Počivalšek said that the document was not aiming to raise salaries but to limit them and enable higher pay for managers.
Počivalšek said he was not against investing in R&D and training, but that the proposal provided no guarantees that this would actually be the case and the funds would not be spent on higher pay for top managers.
Lidija Jerkič, the head of the ZSSS, is not as critical. "These goals are nothing new. They can be reached but will require a restructuring of the industrial sector." She added that it was high time to reach an agreement on private sector pay.
STA, 5 March 2019 - Slovenian chief financial officers (CFOs) expect a somewhat less positive outlook of the state of the economy this year, and point to operational cost management and lack of trained workers as the main risks to business, according to the 2019 survey by consultancy services provider Deloitte Slovenija.
"The main findings of the survey, which has been carried out for the 10th time in Central Europe and for the 8th time in Slovenia, are that CFOs expect growth to slow down.
"In Slovenia, they stressed that an unstable fiscal or legislative environment in general makes their business highly uncertain," Deloitte Slovenija director Barbara Žibret Kralj said as she presented the survey in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
With the minimum wage to rise in Slovenia, Slovenian CFOs expect labour costs to rise the most among all costs. And just like in 2018, they point to hiring adequately trained staff as one of the biggest problems.
The CFOs also expect the unemployment rate to rise, and see banks as the most popular lenders, with internal sources of funding also playing an important role.
Mojca Osolnik Videmšek from the Gorenjska Banka bank said the economy was deeply in an investment cycle, so the need for banks as sources of funds, also because of low interest rates, was there to stay.
This year's survey also focused on artificial intelligence.
More than three-quarters of CFOs in Central Europe and around 40% in Slovenia say their companies lack the support of artificial intelligence in decision-making processes.
In Slovenia, two-thirds of companies say artificial intelligence is important for the development of financial services, but are poorly prepared for implementation.
Slovenian CFOs also believe artificial intelligence will create many jobs in the medium term, but a quarter maintain it will make many jobs obsolete in the long run.
While firms compete globally to attract IT experts, Juri Sidorovič from Deloitte said directors not giving clear instructions and not setting goals was sometimes a problem.
"The problem is what a goal is, what we want, what can be modernised, what can be robotised," he stressed.
Deloitte Slovenija also commented on the tax reform presented last week, with Andreja Škofič Klanjšček saying it was more of a "correction since it brings no major changes".
She welcomed the planned changes to personal income tax to finally take the pressure off of those in the middle of the income scale, and exempting holiday allowance from all taxes.
However, Škofič Klanjšček is worried about the planned rise in corporate income tax from 19% to 22% and about the minimum taxation of 5% of all legal entities.
The participants of the news conference said raising the corporate income tax "is a bad signal to attract investors".
They also complained about the lack of a strategy in which the government would set goals to be achieved with tax changes.
Sidorovič said the state could for instance decided to promote IT and then take measures to implement such a strategy.
STA, 28 February 2019 - Slovenia's survey unemployment rate stood at 4.4% in the last quarter of 2018, which is the lowest rate since the last quarter of 2008, when it stood at 4.3%, the Statistics Office reported on Thursday.
Among the people aged between 15 and 29, the survey unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2018 was at 7.6%, or two percentage points lower year-on-year. The rate was the lowest in the 55-64 age group, at 3.8%.
The long-term unemployment rate dropped to 1.8% year-on-year, as the number of long-term unemployed persons was down by 35.6%, from 29,000 to 19,000.
In the last quarter of 2018, 45,000 persons were unemployed by ILO standards, which is 14,000 (24.3%) fewer year-on-year. The active population in Slovenia was up by 12,000 (1.2%) to 984,000.
The number of inactive persons was up by 4,000 or 0.6% to 729,000. More than half of them (394,000) were older than 65, while 7% or 47,000 of them were aged between 25 and 49.
STA, 4 February 2019 - Calls for structural reforms, in particular lower taxes and a more flexible market, were in the centre of a Slovenian Business Club (SBC)-sponsored meeting in Postojna, which featured some of Slovenia's top business and state officials. Prime Minister Marjan Šarec promised changes, while also noting the importance of preserving the welfare state.
Šarec told the meeting, which brought together around 300 successful entrepreneurs and several cabinet members, that the government would draft a package of measures before the end of the year, "measures that you've perhaps been wishing to see for a while".
He expects the measures will again cause a storm in the public, but "there is no action without a reaction".
Šarec, however, went on to stress that the welfare state was also needed, "since things that it provides for everybody - such as education, healthcare and other services - are not unimportant".
Šarec, who acknowledged the economy was slowing down but argued it was too early to speak of a crisis, rejected comparisons with Switzerland, which is being looked to at the meeting for inspiration on how to increase added value.
"If we continue to wonder how to become another Switzerland or somebody else, we'll probably fail to meet the desired goals and results. No system has only pluses and no system has only minuses," the prime minister said.
Marjan Batagelj, the chairman and majority owner of Postojnska Jama, the operator of Postojna Cave, said it was time for concrete measures, calling for lower taxation of wages and greater labour flexibility.
"We must not become a tax island. All countries around us are reducing taxes and we need to make sure our business environment is competitive," said Batagelj, while at the same time calling for a more effective education system.
He pointed to Switzerland as an example of a country where politics is constantly coordinating its actions with business.
This was echoed by Heinz Karrrer, the president of the biggest economic organisation in Switzerland, Economiesuisse, who said politics should listen very carefully to the needs of business when it comes to creating jobs.
The afternoon part of the meeting, which also featured Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj and Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer, looked in more detail at the forthcoming measures in Slovenia.
Bertoncej said the government would present measures coming as part of "comprehensive tax optimisation" to social partners within a month.
He called for an all-encompassing review, noting that while labour was taxed heavily in Slovenia, the tax burdens on capital were lighter than in other countries.
Promising that the business environment would remain predictable, Bertoncej also announced a gradual introduction of measures, with the biggest batch expected in 2019, to be followed by individual measures in 2020 and 2021.
Among concrete measures being mulled by the government, he mentioned easing taxation on the holiday allowance, changes to income tax brackets, to general income tax allowance, as well as to the corporate tax rate.
Bertoncelj, who also sees reserves as regards the effectiveness of the public sector, added that macroeconomic stability would be the priority focus of the ministry.
Economy Minister Počivalšek highlighted labour force shortages as a key factor undermining growth, suggesting that focusing on raising the average wage would have been better than the recent focus on the minimum wage.
He added that "a step forward" could also be possible when it comes to expanding possibilities to lay off unmotivated staff.
Labour Minister Klampfer also called for reducing the tax burden on labour "across the entire vertical", while stressing the need for social dialogue.
STA, 3 February 2019 - Out of more than 142,000 companies active in Slovenia in 2017, almost 95% were micro companies, and they employed more than a third of the total of 627,000 all employees in companies. Most of the revenue, over two-thirds, was generated by large companies, Statistics Office data shows.
Large companies employed 27.3%, medium-sized companies 19.1% and small companies 18.6% of all workers.
The exact number of companies active in 2017 was 142,574, of which 94.7% were micro companies, classified as entities with up to nine employees.
Small companies (with up to 49 employees) represented 4.3%, medium-sized companies (up to 249 employees) 0.8% and large companies (250 of more employees) 0.2% of all companies.
All Slovenian companies generated a total of EUR 96bn in revenue in 2017, of which 34.3% was generated by large companies, which were followed by medium-sized companies (23.2%), micro companies (21.8%) and small companies (20.7%).
Out of the total added value of EUR 23bn, 35.8% was generated by large companies, 23.5% by micro companies, 21.2% by medium-sized companies and 19.5% by small companies.
The largest share of sales revenues was generated by industrial companies (40%), which were also at the top in terms of the generated added value (43%).
The least sales revenues and added value sector-wise was generated by construction companies, 5% and 6%, respectively.
Industrial companies, which include mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam and water supply, and waste water and waste management companies, increased sales revenues by 11% compared to 2016.
There were almost 20,000 companies in manufacturing in Slovenia in 2017, with sales revenues increasing the most in the motor vehicle segment (by 29%), and decreasing the most in the production of clothing (by 14%).
The data can be explored in more detail here
STA, 1 February 2019 - Gorenje, the Velenje-based household appliances group which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, is cutting 325 temporary-basis jobs, according to information from the in-house trade union.
Gorenje confirmed that fixed-term contracts of 190 workers had elapsed, but the head of the in-house trade union Žan Zeba insisted that 325 jobs were being slashed, including agency workers.
Speaking with the STA, the head of the in-house trade union Žan Zeba said the news came as a negative surprise after the company's plans about expansion of production and extra hiring.
Zeba said the Gorenje management had promised the workers who are now being laid off full time jobs. He also said that it would be hard to meet the output goals given the current labour dynamics.
"After the very good test results of our new generation appliances we definitely expect production to increase and the capacities to be filled; we will welcome all new investments once they happen."
Zeba also hopes that the employees' wishes be taken into consideration in the company's reorganisation.
He said the management was planning to launch a new dishwasher production line in mid-year, but the trade union did not have any information about it.
Production of build-in freezers and fridges is to be moved to the subsidiary in Valjevo in Serbia in the coming months.
Denis Oštir, director of corporate communication at Gorenje, told the STA that the mentioned workers were on temporary job contracts. "These contracts have now run out."
"Gorenje denies in the strongest terms the information that we will lay off 325 workers. We will not give notice to a single worker employed on fixed or non-fixed terms," Oštir said.
After receiving official information from the staffing department, Oštir also denied that employment contracts of 325 workers had run out, saying the correct figure was 190 workers.
He added though that it "is true that the fixed-term contracts of a number of workers have elapsed at this time. This is a matter of seasonal change, which is common in a company's operations".
Oštir said the company was adapting to the clients' demands and seasonal trends in demand. At the end of 2018, demand for labour force in production was bigger because the company created stocks because of the move to Valjevo.
Asked about the plans for a new TV plant announced by the Chinese owners, Oštir said the project was in the phase of acquiring the necessary documents.
The plant is to be built by the existing warehouse in Velenje and is to create 300 to 400 jobs.
Gorenje is currently being transformed from a joint stock company into a limited responsibility company. The company delisted from the Ljubljana Stock Exchange last year.