Trade union leaders Lidija Jerkič, Branimir Štrukelj, Jakob Počivavšek, Evelina Vesenjak and Peter Majcen, have written a public letter, in which they expressed their opposition to some of the government acts. They also had some help from the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, Luca Visentini, and accused the government of halting the dialogue between the authorities and the trade unions. In the past, however, trade unions have unilaterally stopped the dialogue and are now just playing the part of one more satellite of the left-wing opposition parliamentary parties, united in the Constitutional Arch Coalition. “Unfortunately, this was written in Slovenia and is completely untrue. And apparently, it was first sent back to Slovenia, to the authors themselves. The response with facts will follow. Don’t embarrass yourself by exporting obvious lies that are easily exposed,” Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the letter.
During the term of the current government, it has become a common practice for the foreign media and various international organisations to draw attention to Slovenia’s problems regarding “freedom of the media, culture and democracy.” In our media outlet, we have repeatedly proved that those who ideologically hate the policy of the current Prime Minister Janez Janša are the people who are behind all of this sullying of Slovenia’s reputation. Therefore, it is no surprise that the representatives of the five trade union centrals (the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia – Zveza svobodnih sindikatov Slovenije, the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions – Konfederacija sindikatov javnega sektorja, Pergam, KNSS-Independence – KNSS-Neodvisnost, and the Confederation of Trade Unions 90 Slovenia – Konfederacija sindikatov 90 Slovenija) and the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation Luca Visentini responded with their letter. However, this is nothing more than exporting artificially created problems abroad in order to damage Slovenia’s reputation as much as possible before Slovenia’s forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In the letter, the authors highlighted what they believe to be the most problematic laws the current government wants to pass. The National Demographic Fund Act, the De-Bureaucratisation Act, and the legislative package of the tax laws do not sit right with the five signed trade union centrals. If the Demographic Fund Act is approved, they fear that the state’s assets would be centralised, and management would be left to political parties. They point out that in this case, 900 million euros of funds of the civil servants and 500 million euros of funds of employees in the private sector, which they saved in the pension fund, would be endangered. In connection to the De-bureaucratisation Act, they are bothered by the introduction of the restrictions for social security contributions. And when it comes to the legislative package of the tax laws, they are critical of the fact that taxes are especially being lowered for the wealthiest people, which will further increase inequality and stratification of the population. However, the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia’s opinion is completely different, as most Slovenian companies have supported the changes in the field of tax legislation.
The unions claim that their members will be worse off with and have lower monthly wages
The trade unionists always make sure to not mention their own interests in the public letters they send. They are maintaining the status quo and selling fairy tales about workers’ rights to their members. It should be in their interest to ensure the best possible position for all Slovenians, as well as higher salaries. With the newly adopted tax legislation, the minimum wage will increase to 1,320 euros in the next five years.
Slovenia is one of the countries with the highest-taxed wages, which is a big problem for employers and employees. Both are at a disadvantage due to the system that is set up – business owners due to the tax burden and the employees due to the lower wages. Evelina Veseljak, the leader of the KNSS Independence trade union, proved her lack of understanding of the modern economy by wondering “who will fill up the budget.” Only with a better and kinder tax system will every citizen actually have a higher monthly amount of money to spend, which will also enable higher internal consumption.
Many European countries have already introduced restrictions for social security contributions. This was mainly introduced with the aim of keeping the best experts in various fields in Slovenia. Many of them prefer to go abroad, as they have much better working conditions there, and they have a much higher salary guaranteed. The unions do not understand this, and therefore prefer to tell the story of the evil capitalist system, which has already been told hundreds of times.
Branimir Štrukelj, the capitalist trade unionist, defends the economic mogul of Slovenia, Borut Jamnik
Among the representatives of the five trade unions, one of them is particularly motivated to ensure that the announced Demographic Fund Act will not be implemented. We are, of course, talking about Branimir Štrukelj, a long-time trade union leader of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia and representative of the Confederation of the Public Sector Trade Unions. He has repeatedly proved to be a supporter of the Levica party (the Left) in public. In one of the European elections, he was also the party’s candidate for a Member of the European Parliament. He is a long-term supervisor in the parastatal company Modra zavarovalnica. Borut Jamnik, one of the key figures of the Slovenian transition network, has been the company’s director for many years. Through his influence, he has built an economic network in the state and parastate companies over the past decade. He established all of this with the help of his organisation, the Association of Supervisors of Slovenia.
During the time of Pahor’s government, Štrukelj was also a supervisor at the company Kapitalska družba, from 2009 to 2011. He received a total of 8,994 euros for his work. Since 2011, he has been helping Jamnik maintain his influence on the Slovenian economy. As the supervisor of Modra zavarovalnica alone, he has received 51,899 euros in the years from 2011 to 2020. In addition, Štrukelj received a monthly salary of more than five thousand euros. He also receives a monthly amount for his work as a representative in the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia. The idea of exposing just how much the public servants’ funds are endangered is a real fear of Štrukelj and Jamnik’s, as they are worried that they are going to lose control over these funds.
For years, Modra zavarovalnica has been collecting money for additional pension insurance for civil servants. In 2019, its annual revenue was close to 90 million euros; however, there is no data for last year. A gold mine for individuals, clearly. The information about the salary of the president of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia Lidija Jerkič has also appeared in public several times already – namely, her monthly salary of several thousand euros and a monthly amount she receives as an elected councillor in the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia. The trade unionists are already preparing for a new political action, announcing new strikes and protests at the end of their letter for the autumn months of this year. This is how the trade unions will prove once again that they are the central defenders of the transition network in Slovenia. In the past, due to them helping the transition network, many workers have lost their jobs. When that happened, however, the union leaders stayed as quiet as mice.