Slovenian public servants strike over austerity measures | News | DW | 18.04.2012
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Slovenian public servants strike over austerity measures

Slovenian public servants walked off the job on Wednedsay to protest the government's austerity measures, saying they have been left to bear the main impacts. Prime Minister Janez Jansa says his hands are tied.

Civil servants went on strike in Slovenia on Wednesday to protest against planned pay cuts.

The strike closed schools and other public services across the small European Union country. Around 80,000 public sector workers took part in the general strike, according to union officials.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa, which took office just two months ago, is planning to cut public sector wages by more than seven percent as part of its austerity drive aimed at wrestling down Slovenia's high budgetary deficit. Jansa's government is hoping to reduce the deficit from 6.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 to 3.5 percent in 2012. That's still well above the three-percent ceiling set out in the European Union's Stability and Growth Pact, which is designed to safeguard the bloc's common currency, the euro.

The unions, though, argue that it is unfair for civil servants to have to shoulder the bulk of the burden through wage cuts.

"This is the wrong idea for Slovenia to grow," Branimir Strukelj, the head of the confederation of public trade unions said.

"The strike is a serious message to the government that we are determined to defend the social state and the acquired standards in education," he added.

However there is no sign that the government has any plans to back away from its austerity programme.

"The Slovenian economy is on the edge," Prime Minister Jansa told public broadcaster TV Slovenia. "The strike will not solve anything, it will just increase our problems."

In 2004, Slovenia became the first country from the former Yugoslavia to be admitted to the European Union. It joined the eurozone three years later.

pfd/ (Reuters, AP)