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Unions seek referendum to cut hours

TRADE unions in Slovakia launched a public petition on January 11 calling for a referendum regarding changes in the country’s Labour Code. The unions are proposing a cut in weekly working hours from 40 to 35 without a loss of earnings and a reduction of permitted annual overtime work from 150 to 80 hours per year while retaining all other provisions of the Labour Code in their present form, the SITA newswire reported.

TRADE unions in Slovakia launched a public petition on January 11 calling for a referendum regarding changes in the country’s Labour Code. The unions are proposing a cut in weekly working hours from 40 to 35 without a loss of earnings and a reduction of permitted annual overtime work from 150 to 80 hours per year while retaining all other provisions of the Labour Code in their present form, the SITA newswire reported.

The Slovak president must call a referendum if at least 350,000 citizens sign a petition requesting one. The trade unions stated that they plan to collect signatures on their petition until mid March.

The government has initiated discussion about changes in the country’s Labour Code but the trade unions have refused to take part in the tripartite meetings, SITA reported.

Prime Minister Iveta Radičová said she does not support reducing the working week from 40 hours to 35, arguing that it would be economically unsustainable. She said there was a strong probability that a shorter working week would automatically result in lower incomes.

“We will not take this risk,” Radičová said, as quoted by SITA.

The largest opposition party, Smer, stated it might support the trade unionists’ attempt to shorten the work week.

“If the referendum is about improving the position of employees, we will support it,” said Erik Tomáš, the party’s spokesperson, as quoted by the Sme daily.


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