European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Industrial relations in Slovenia - background summary

  • On average trade union membership in Slovenia is around 12.1% of the workforce, which is not an official record, but a data from the CJMMK (Public Opinion and Mass Communication Research Centre). The membership has been declining from the figure of 41,2% 1991, when Slovenia became independent.
  • The main trade union confederation in Slovenia is the ZSSS (The Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia), founded in 1990. It has 22 trade union members from different sectors from the whole Slovenia, both public and private. According to their data they have around 130,000 members in 2018. The second biggest confederation is KSJS (Confederation of Trade Unions of the Public Sector of Slovenia). There are also several active trade unions at both sector and professional level.
  • Based on the data of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, there are 49 representative trade unions in Slovenia at the sector and professional level.
  • At the national level social dialogue takes place in a tripartite committee named the Economic and Social Council (ESS), with representatives of employers’ organizations, trade unions and government. As the committee cannot adopt any legally binding act, it has primarily an advisory role. However the committee has an important role in examining draft legislation covering the entire spectrum of economic and social relations on the labour market and in negotiations for social and wage policy agreements.
  • Two collective agreements in the public sector are concluded on the national level. Thus, the collective bargaining coverage is 100%, also due to the Public Sector System Act.
  • Collective bargaining in the private sector takes place at sectoral level between sector trade unions and employer organizations. There are at least 15 sector collective agreements with extended validity (valid for all employees and employers regardless of their membership in trade unions or employers’ organizations) in different sectors, such as retail, metal industry, electrical industry, crafts, etc. In 2016 collective bargaining coverage in the private sector was estimated at 78.8 %.
  • The key issue in negotiation for collective agreements is remuneration (wage and other payment, such as the payment for overtime work), followed by working conditions, health and safety and trade union rights and facilities.
  • At the company level, both trade unions and works council represent employees at the workplace. Although the legislation clearly delimits their role, sometimes there is a misunderstanding of their competencies. Works council are not allowed to conduct collective bargaining, whereas trade union cannot exercise the right of co-decision.
  • The major role of the trade union at the company level is the conclusion of local collective agreements. Usually such a collective agreement is applicable to all employees in the company.
  • Works councils can be established in companies with more than 20 employees and were introduced by the legislation in 1993. As there is no official data, the number of works council cannot be accurately assessed. In general works council are present in bigger companies, both private and state-owned. Works councils have several rights, such as the right to be informed, consulted and co-decision. In some cases, they have the right of retention of employer’s decisions.
  • The threshold for board-level employee representation is 50 employees. Works councils have the right to nominate employee representatives in the supervisory board and management board (two-tier system) or in the board of directors (one-tier system). The share of employee representatives on the supervisory board should not be lower than one-third and not higher than half of the seats; in the case of board of directors the minimum is one employee representative out of every three board members. Companies with more than 500 employees could nominate an employee director to sit on the management board (two-tier system) or to be and executive director in the board of directors (one-tier system) to represent the interests of employees. Board-level employee representatives are usually nominated in bigger and state-owned companies.
  • A great contribution for the development of employee participation in Slovenia goes to the Slovene Association of Works Councils, which is a voluntarily established network that aims to professionally support works councils and the development of economic democracy in Slovenia. Recently, they have 108 members, namely works council from different companies from the whole Slovenia.
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