President Ivan Gasparovic shocked a lot of people yesterday when he decided to endorse the revision to the Labour Code, which has been so contested by trade unions, the opposition, and even caused the usual sparks in the coalition.
Gasparovic’s decision is surprising because to date he has basically tried to stand in the way of most laws that opposition party Smer-SD was also against, but the coalition managed to steamroll his vetoes in parliament every time.
All the more surprising then is his decision to let the Labour Code be passed as it is, because it only got 74 votes in parliament, as Igor Matovic’s Obycajni Ludia (Ordinary People) faction voted against the bill. If the president had not signed it, it would have been returned to the September session of parliament and could very possibly not have received the necessary support.
For sure everyone is asking why he took the decision and if some kind of deal has not been struck, either with the coalition or with Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party, but these are mere speculations, and always will be in politics. Some analysts think that it could be a tactical move to let opposition Smer-SD party rally with trade unions and so create public discontent against the government.
In any case, MPs on both benches were stunned by the move and it has got the hackles of the trade unions back up. It was obviously greeted with glee by labour minister Jozef Mihal and employers, who gain far greater flexibility from the new revision.
The Ministry of Labour feels that the new Labour Code will help generate jobs, with minister Mihal pointing out how it will also help employers, basically referring to how they can sack people easier depending on swings in market demand.
The trade unions, which have been battling against the new Labour Code and were frequently snubbed in tripartite talks, now plan to organise strikes for the autumn and file a petition with the Constitutional Court to examine the legality of certain clauses in the law. Head of the KOVO trade union Emil Machyna expressed his disappointment with the president’s decision, while warning of severe strikes that will disrupt the whole business sphere.