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Social dialogue the essence of European social development, according to Slovenian Premier Janez Janša

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia and President of the European Council, Mr Janez Janša, this morning held a meeting with representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to discuss current issues relevant to all EU residents: the minimum wage, the share of salaries in GDP, the equitable distribution of income and the pay gap between men and women. ETUC General Secretary John Monks took the opportunity to thank the Slovenian Government headed by the Prime Minister for the work carried out so far in the field of social dialogue and congratulated Slovenia on its successful chairing of the March Tripartite Social Summit meeting and its Presidency of the Council of the European Union. He added that Slovenia set a good example to the countries that had joined the European Union in 2004.

After today’s meeting, Prime Minister Janez Janša declared that representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation had, as was reasonable, been drawing attention to the trend of declining share of wages in GDP, and endorsed their demand for wages in all EU Member States to be brought into line with productivity. “This is also the guiding principle enshrined in the social agreement, which we signed in Slovenia last year, which has already begun to take effect in Slovenia,” said the Prime Minister.

The ETUC General Secretary and the Slovenian Prime Minister agreed that, in all 27 Member States, standards on determining the minimum wage should be regulated by law. Mr Janša took the opportunity to inform European trade union representatives of the increase in the minimum wage in Slovenia, with which the Government had responded to the problems of those worst affected by inflation.

They also discussed further measures that should be adopted to narrow the gender pay gap. “This is an unfair difference and there are no objective reasons why it should still exist,” maintained the Prime Minister, saying he was pleased that Slovenia had the second lowest gender pay gap, beaten only by Malta. He further added that the March European Council had set reducing the gender pay gap as one of the major objectives linked to the successful implementation of the Lisbon Strategy.

Moreover, the participants of today’s meeting advocated the more equitable distribution of earnings and an incentive-based pay system for those with the highest education qualifications, in particular for those employed in sectors with high added value. Meanwhile, those with the lowest incomes should also be guaranteed a decent standard of living. “This is one of the European Union’s ideals that will need to be attained in the coming years,” said the Slovenian Prime Minister and current President of the European Council.

The participants of this morning’s meeting also agreed that social dialogue was extremely important if Europe wished to respond as one to the challenges of globalisation. Mr Janša took this opportunity to stress that the European Union was not merely an economic project. “Our goal is a European Union such a good place to live in that none of its residents will want to exchange it for any other part of the world,” he said. Good results reached by the European Union in implementing the first cycle of the revised Lisbon Strategy have created a number of conditions on the basis of which it is possible to aspire to a better life for all European Union residents, and the EU’s sound development in recent years has, according to the Slovenian Prime Minister, the current President of the European Council, also given us courage and self-assurance to face the uncertainties brought about by the situation in world financial markets.

Mr Janša also confirmed that, in the coming weeks and months, the requirements of the ETUC representatives would be raised at the European level and in all the bodies in which Slovenia is – as the current EU Presidency country – addressing the resolution of these problems.


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Date: 11.04.2008