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The functioning of trade unions in Slovenia is essentially governed by the country’s Constitution and is based on international documents defining trade union freedom. Trade unions represent their members in the exercise and protection of their economic and social interests in social dialogue with employers, employers’ organisations and the government.

Article 76 of the Slovenian Constitution provides, in the chapter on economic and social relations, that the freedom to establish, operate and join trade unions shall be guaranteed. 

The question of trade union freedom with regard to the establishment and operation of trade unions is also ensured at the legislative level. The law that further regulates the field of trade unions is the Trade Union Representativeness Act, whose provisions lay down only the basic conditions for the acquisition, by trade unions, of the legal personality they require in order to carry out financial operations in legal transactions, and the manner and conditions for acquisition of representativeness on the part of trade unions. Other more specific rules of operation are laid down by the trade unions themselves in their statutes or rules. The law therefore does not prejudice any person’s right to set up a trade union, to adopt, together with others, the statutes or rules of the trade union, and to select representatives of the trade union. 

Acquisition of legal capacity

A trade union becomes a legal person from the date on which the decision on the safekeeping of the statutes or other basic act is taken at the competent administrative authority. Trade union statutes for the country, for several municipalities together, for an activity and for a profession are kept by the ministry responsible for labour. The statutes of trade unions organised at a lower level (e.g. in one municipality or at one employer) are kept by the competent administrative unit. The conditions prescribed by the law for the issuing of a decision are: submission of the instrument whose storage is being requested; the submission of evidence that the trade union has actually been established; and proof that the request has been filed by a person authorised by the trade union. 

None of these conditions shall prejudice the right of anyone to set up a trade union, to adopt, together with others, its statutes, and to select trade union representatives, nor shall it prevent the establishment of a trade union. However, under the Rules on the register of trade union statutes, the trade union is also obliged to communicate to the competent administrative authority any changes to the data entered in the register and to the facts on which entry in the register is based. 

Representativeness of trade unions

As regards the acquisition of representativeness on the part of a trade union, the law differentiates the conditions for the acquisition of the characteristics of representativeness of trade union federations or confederations, autonomous trade unions in a particular activity or profession, and trade unions based at a specific employer. The general conditions for acquiring trade union representativeness are the same for all variants, i.e. the trade union must demonstrate that: 

  • it is democratic and embodies the freedom to join a trade union, to operate and to exercise the rights of membership; 
  • it has been in operation continuously for at least the last 6 months; 
  • it is independent of state authorities and any employer; 
  • it is financed mainly from membership fees and other resources of the trade union; and 
  • it has a certain number of members, as evidenced by the trade union’s signed declarations of membership by its members.

In the case of trade union federations or confederations, evidence must be provided that the trade union has at least 10% of workers from a particular activity or profession in which it wishes to acquire representativeness. In the case of an independent trade union within an activity or profession or a trade union based at a single employer, this percentage is slightly higher (15%).

A decision on the representativeness of trade union federations or confederations and of independent trade unions within an activity or profession is issued by the minister responsible for labour, while the decision on the representativeness of a trade union based at a single employer is taken by the employer.

Trade Union Representativeness Act provides that representative trade unions have the right to enter into collective agreements of general application, to participate in bodies deciding on matters of economic and social security for workers, and to nominate worker candidates for participation in management in accordance with specific regulations. In addition, certain rights of representative trade unions (notably in procedures relating to the collective regulation of workers’ rights) are governed by specific laws, including the Employment Relationships Act, the Civil Service Act and the Public Sector Salary System Act. Of course, employers are obliged to allow a trade union to take part in proceedings against an employee, if the employee who is a trade union member so requests, irrespective of the representativeness of the trade union of which the employee is a member.