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Slovenia Business Week no. 22: Economic and Social Council Increases Work Permit Quotas

The Economic and Social Council, the industrial relations forum, has reached an agreement to increase the quota for work permits for foreign workers from 18,500 to 24,500

The Economic and Social Council, the industrial relations forum, has reached an agreement on Monday, 4 June to increase the quota for work permits for foreign workers from 18,500 to 24,500.

The members of the council also agreed to prepare a detailed analysis of employment of foreigners as part of the economic migrations strategy, which the Labour, Family and Social Affairs Ministry is to draft by September.

The ministry proposed to increase the quota because only some 400 work permits were left by the end of May, representative of the national Employment Service explained. The ministry thus suggested that the quota should increase by 4,870 permits.

The majority of trade unions supported the proposal, while the employers found it unacceptable. Igor Antauer, the secretary general of the Craft Industries Employers' Association, said that the increase would only cover the applications that had already been filed.

Joze Smole of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIS) meanwhile explained that there was a lack of workers for the haulage, construction, hospitality and metallurgy sectors in the unemployment registry. In his opinion it is necessary to make use of the current economic growth and solve the problem by increasing the quota. The chamber therefore suggested that the quota be increased by 15,000.

Dusan Semolic, the head of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS), meanwhile said that the employers underestimated the power of wages. In his opinion the lack of workforce could be reduced by increasing wages.

The council also discussed changes to the labour relationship act. The employers reproached the Labour Minister Marjeta Cotman that she had erased the provisions on past work from the changes and requested some time to discuss the new draft changes.

The trade unions meanwhile said that the provisions were not the subject of talks, adding that if the employers insisted on the provisions, the talks could return to the beginning, which would mean the act would remain unamended.

The members of the council nevertheless agreed that all the provisions of the changes that were the subject of negotiations have been harmonised. The employers and the KNSS Independence trade union also got 14 days to form a position on the changes and present it at the council's session.

Source: Slovenian Press Agency STA

Author: STA, Slovenian National Press Agency