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Labour Code amendment passed

THE SLOVAK parliament approved a revision to the Labour Code on June 28 that gives workers more protection and trade unionists more power. Out of the 144 MPs present, 83 voted for the bill and 61 were against.

THE SLOVAK parliament approved a revision to the Labour Code on June 28 that gives workers more protection and trade unionists more power. Out of the 144 MPs present, 83 voted for the bill and 61 were against.

The ruling coalition led by left-wing PM Robert Fico, who has called the amendment the "law of the year", dismissed criticism from the opposition and business leaders that the changes would harm Slovakia's economic competitiveness, the SITA newswire reported.

Amending the Labour Code adopted by the centre-right Mikuláš Dzurinda government was one of the main pillars of the Fico's Smer party's pre-election campaign.

"This is a law fully in line with the government's programme," Fico told the press after the amendment passed. "We have significantly strengthened the position of employees."

However, the opposition was not as optimistic.

"This bill is bad because it will reduce flexibility on the labour market, decrease competitiveness in the Slovak economy and lead to fewer job opportunities," the opposition MP and former finance minister Ivan Mikloš told parliament.

The new Labour Code grants more generous severance conditions to workers and introduces a definition of "dependent work", which, according to the approved text, can only be carried out by employees and not contractors.

During negotiations over the Labour Code amendment, SNS MPs pushed through a change enabling employers arrange overtime work with employees in certain industrial branches in order to secure smooth production processes.

"Forbidding overtime work might damage in particular the automotive, engineering and mining industries," said MP Rafael Rafaj of the SNS.

If President Ivan Gašparovič signs the revision to the law, it come into effect in September.

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