After a one-month summer break, the government and public sector unions recently met again to come to an agreement regarding the resuming of negotiations on the reform of the wage system and the elimination of pay disparities, but the government proposed to postpone the planned reform from 2024 to 2025 due to the damage caused by the floods, as the reform will be costly for the country, whose priority is now to recover from the floods. Is this the beginning of the dominoes falling, as the media and the people are slowly being prepared for the fact that there will be no reforms by the end of the mandate, and the excuse will be the floods?
The Minister of Public Administration, Sanja Ajanovič Hovnik, has said that, depending on the extent of the flood damage, all sectors in the country will have to contribute their share. She therefore proposed to the trade unions that the elimination of pay disparities in the public sector and the transition to a new wage system should start a year later than planned so far, meaning on the 1st of January 2025 instead of 2024. The reason for it is the country’s recovery from the devastating floods.
With this, concerns have arisen that the floods will be a convenient answer and an excuse for the government’s failure to implement the promised reforms. It is also worth noting that even before the floods, reforms in key areas were not actually progressing; only analyses, empty agreements and timetables were being made. The question thus arises whether the government will also propose to delay the payment of millions to non-governmental organisations.
What should be our priority? And what about the other reforms, the healthcare reform?
The issue was also raised by the leader of the opposition and President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Janez Janša, who said that there are different ministries, different government departments, and that each has its own responsibilities, and not all of them are dealing with the floods. “Other problems also need to be solved, but it is true that when such a disaster occurs, it is clear that the first weeks are concentrated on that, because people need to be helped. In addition to material aid, you also have to create an atmosphere where people believe that things will be solved, because if people don’t believe that, then there is apathy, and nothing can be done.”
However, sooner or later, the time will come when Prime Minister Robert Golob will have to explain to the public why his government is not delivering on its promises. We have repeatedly witnessed his failure to answer certain questions and his reluctance to explain things, even when they concern the Slovenian public and the people who are the reason he is sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair today. Recently, however, he admitted that they had set themselves a much too difficult task with these reforms, and between the lines, it was clear that there would be no reforms.
As SDS MP Anže Logar wrote in his column some time ago, “In the government of Robert Golob, the word ‘timeline’ is taking on a new, extended meaning. It is becoming a substitute for – content. Because you have no substantive solutions, but you have already announced the reform to the public. You promised a fair tax reform where we all have more, and a fair pension reform so that no one will have to live below the poverty line. You don’t know how you will achieve that just yet, but you have a verbal joker – a timeline.” Except now, it will be the flood that is to blame for the delays.