Labour Code Quarrels Come Too Late

In the wake of the government getting its revised Labour Code pushed through parliament, everyone is starting to shout for their own kind of justice.

Head of opposition party Smer-SD, Robert Fico, is blaming independent MP Igor Matovic for allowing the coalition to push through the revision, while Matovic is pointing the finger back at Fico.

Matovic organised a street demonstration in the centre of Bratislava yesterday aimed at Smer-SD, trying to show the party’s voters just what the party is doing, even accusing Fico of having helped get the Labour Code revision passed just so he would have something to criticise.

Slovak Parliament (c) Tibor Macak, The Daily

Armed with a banner saying “People, open your eyes, Fico has betrayed you”, Matovic and Co pointed to how the Labour Code would have not been passed without opposition votes, i.e. those of Smer-SD MPs.

Matovic claims that if they had not been there then the law wouldn’t have been passed due to a lack of quorum. Matovic’s banner walk through the streets of Bratislava caught the attention more of tourists than Smer-SD voters, however.

Matovic was reacting to how Robert Fico had blamed Matovic’s Obycajni Ludia faction (OL) of letting the bill through, saying they had wiped their collective bottom with ordinary voters and had not kept to their promise. The four OL MPs didn’t vote against the revision by being absent.

By not appearing for the vote, the OL MPs lowered the quorum and so the bill was passed even without a simple majority in parliament of 76 votes (74 votes in favour were enough). Fico was enraged that this tactic was employed for such an important bill as the Labour Code.

The OL MPs had four requirements as part of their deal with the coalition, but in the end only one of them was incorporated into the law, with Matovic’s proposal to cancel luncheon vouchers being overturned in the end. Matovic feels cheated and has said the coalition sold him out.

Now comes the turn of president Ivan Gasparovic, who admitted that he had not read the revised Labour Code yet, while assuring that he would provide his position to it within the legally prescribed 15-day deadline. As could only be expected, though, the President will probably give it a thumb down as he himself said that he was saddened by the manner in which the bill was passed, referring to mutual back-scratching in creating legislation.

There were jeers from trade unionists when the revision was passed and they are also now threatening to withdraw from the tripartite social dialogue between government, employers and employees, and also to increase pressure through other protests.

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