Slovenian labour unions organised a massive rally on Saturday, calling for an increase in minimum wage which – as it stands now – is indeed criminally low and stands at 589 EUR (gross), with net salary amounting to some 460 EUR. With the onset of the crisis and accompanying staggering increase in unemployment (nearing 100k out of 1.06 million strong labour force) households are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. This was one of the reasons for unions (most of them, anyway) to hold what is apparently becoming a traditional biannual late-autumn strike.
Protesters in downtown Ljubljana (source)
Unlike on the past two occasions (2007 and 2005) pengovsky wasn’t there to witness the show first-hand but while the previous to rallies were held in an increasingly expanding economic environment, this latest installant of labour discontent was held just as latest GDP figures were announced (down 8.3 percent) and when it is perfectly obvious that not only are dark clouds gathering (thanks, Adriaan) but that we’re in a middle of a big fucking storm that shows no signs of abating. Despite these differences the theme remained the same. Higher wages.
Something doesn’t seem quite right. If during a period of economic expansion labour unions demanded higher wages, surely they would recognise the futility and counter-productivity of their demands during the Big Slump?
On the other hand, the employers (firms) keep repeating the same theme, too. In 2005 they yearned for relaxing of employment laws (basically demanding that sacking people be made easier) and cutting taxes. In 2007 they pretty much kept to the same tune, saying that “increasing wages would kill productivity and (while we’re on the issue) so do the high taxes and rigid labour laws, so would the government please do something about that?“. And today, in 2009, they make nervous noises that higher wages would sink a lot of companies and while we’re on the issue, would someone please lower the taxes or ease labour laws or preferably both?
Something doesn’t seem quite right. If during the Big Slump companies worry that increasing wages would send them south, then what the hell fuelled their growth during the good days?
And the government? Ah, the government… Seems like the previous one was heavy on money and light on ideas (it ran a deficit during the good years), whereas this one is trying to operate beyond it’s increasingly meagre means.
Something doesn’t seem quite right. If during the Big… ah, screw it. It just ain’t right. Unions, employers and government are sitting tight, repeating oft-heard tunes while the river flows by, carrying more and more corpses. Time to start banging heads together, kids! This thing ain’t gonna solve itself, you know….