Slovenia - Working conditions

Working conditions are considerably better in Slovenia than in many other Eastern European countries. The rate of registered unemployment decreased from 14.5 percent in 1998 to 11.7 percent in 2000, its lowest level for 8 years. The official figures may overstate the level of unemployment since periodic surveys, conducted according to the International Labor Office methodologies, have reported lower estimates, and Slovenia may in fact be approaching full employment . Of greater concern to the government, however, in the light of EU employment directives, is structural unemployment . An impediment to job creation is the apparent lack of labor mobility , which has prevented workers from moving from rural higher-unemployment areas in the poorer east of the country to areas such as Ljubljana, where full employment has in effect already been attained. This is one of the reasons for the high number of vacancies, at around 11,500 in July 2000, compared to the number of the unemployed.

A minimum wage agreement reached in 1999 between the government, employers, and trade unions linked rises in base wages to the pace of inflation as of the December 1999 level. Once prices reach at least 4 percent above that level, base wages will rise by 85 percent of the price rise. If prices rise 5 percent above that level, base wages would be fully reindexed in line with inflation. Public-sector wages are strongly correlated with base wages, but manufacturing wages are less responsive to their changes. In September 2000, the government granted doctors' wage demands that may prompt other public-sector employees to demand increases. Inflation has also convinced the government to tie pensions to the base wages and raise them accordingly over time. The EU has been concerned about the "inflexibility" of the Slovenian labor market, which allegedly will impair the ability of the country to compete in the single European market. However, the government has been extremely careful not to jeopardize the existing consensual support for market reforms by putting too much strain on workers and pensioners .

Slovenia has signed all major universal and regional legal instruments regarding labor, including as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as treaties on the right to equal compensation and collective bargaining and against employment discrimination.

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