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Many trade unions have expressed support for the ZSSS secretary: “We expect you to withdraw this controversial dismissal immediately!”

The Free Trade Union of Slovenia, the Trade Union Glosa and the Trade Union of Professional Firefighters of Slovenia are outraged by the dismissal of Matej Jemec, secretary of the Gorenjska regional organisation of the ZSSS, as they are convinced that it is an illegal dismissal. Now the support for Jemec has been also expressed in the Trade Union of Mining and Energy Workers of Slovenia, where they emphasised that due to such moves by the trade unions, the decline in confidence in trade unionism – which remains the only and best means of fighting for the rights of all workers – is becoming more intense.

Matej Jemec, secretary at the Gorenjska regional organisation, was fired by the management of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS) for business reasons. Already yesterday we received a letter from the trade unions of the Free Trade Union of Slovenia (SSS), Glosa-Trade Union of Culture and Nature of Slovenia and the Trade Union of Professional Firefighters of Slovenia, which strongly oppose illegal termination of employment for Jemec, secretary of the ZSSS Gorenjska and a member of the Free Trade Union of Slovenia. “According to our repeated well-intentioned, and from your side always overheard, warnings, we therefore publicly call on you and demand: cancel the illegal termination of Matej Jemec’s employment contract! You still have a chance, drop that burden in time. Your personal responsibility is getting worse,” the signatories of the letter wrote, among other things.

Today we also received a letter from the Trade Union of Mining and Energy Workers of Slovenia (SDRES) – in which they wrote that they are unfortunately accustomed to union trustees and trade unionists regularly facing pressure from employers and that support for trade unionists is an integral part of trade union activities, who find themselves at the mercy of the employer. “However, we cannot believe that this call – in the light of – unreasonable termination of employment is addressed to the largest union headquarters. This is especially surprising considering the previous experience with Matej Jemec, who in many situations proved to be a top trade unionist, who always put the rights of workers before all other activities. Now, however, he has been punished with dismissal for his work, for business reasons,” they said indignantly, adding that workers are badly written off if this is the vision of the largest trade union headquarters in Slovenia. Termination of an employment contract with a trade unionist for business reasons is something you would expect from regular violators of workers’ rights and other employers, which we read about in the Black Chronicle. By no means can it be acceptable for the largest union headquarters in our country. If trade unions use the methods of employers’ organisations, the struggle for workers’ rights is lost in advance. A trade union cannot and must not agree with the logic of crisis management, which we know from employers’ organisations. There, crisis management is led by politically-minded people of questionable competencies and on this account they dismiss staff and pay rewards to themselves.

“The basic guideline of the union is that it is a matter of solidarity organisation and co-decision of members, but in the ZSSS, unfortunately, you are proving the opposite with your actions. We are even more appalled by the statements of ZSSS secretary Boštjan Medik and the silence of ZSSS president Lidija Jerkič. The trade union secretary, who believes that unionism is the dismissal of a worker for business and not culpable reasons, is not even worth volunteering for the trade union. The same is the silence from the president of the headquarters, who, in our opinion, should immediately invite the secretary for an interview in the event of such a statement. We are also concerned about the statements of the Secretary, who accuses Jemec of conflict. The fact is that the first and fundamental task of trade unionists is to care for the members, not for the goodwill and well-being of the trade union presidents of the activity. Due to the nature of work, dissent is also an integral part of trade unionism, which is always resolved democratically and, above all, by concern for the benefit of members. And not by hiding behind criminal charges ‘against certain actors’ and by personal insult.”

The ZSSS should immediately withdraw the disputed dismissal

They also wrote in the letter that such moves by the trade unions had led to an ever more intense decline in confidence in trade unionism – which remains the only and best means of fighting for the rights of all workers. Therefore, they warned those responsible that such moves do not only jeopardise the reputation of the trade union itself, but of all trade unions, namely the members of those that always work for the benefit of workers and in which there is no room for personal insult of an official. If the energy spent on removing active trade unionists were invested in actually caring for members, then those workers who worked constantly during the epidemic would not only see covid additions on television. If the conciliatory social dialogue that ensures the peace of trade union presidents is actually effective, then trade union headquarters in the last year could show much more than just withdrawing from social dialogue. We would not read about undeclared work for employers who receive workers’ compensation. We would not face redundancies for business reasons in companies and trade unions that received state subsidies. There would be no question of 100% compensation for those infected in the epidemic, which most workers have never seen. “People see and hear all this, even if we do not say it out loud. Therefore, we expect the ZSSS to withdraw this controversial dismissal immediately. Trade unionism has too many organised opponents in employers’ organisations to afford to ruin its reputation from within. In SDRES, we express our full support for the trade unionist Matej Jemec and at the same time we expect that trade unionism will not be driven by personal resentment and moves by exploitative employers,” the Mining and Energy Workers’ Union of Slovenia said.

Sara Bertoncelj

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