Commonfare was proud to present the 6th National Conference on Precarious Work in Slovenia, entitled “Modern slavery: precariousness on the labour market” held on Wednesday, November 28th from 16:00 to 19:30h at Mestnega Hall, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and attended by students, academics, union leaders, and interested citizens.

Organized by Commonfare and the Movement for Decent Work and Welfare Society, an NGO dedicated to combatting precariousness through research and activism in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a Commonfare best practice. This year’s event promoted all that we have in common, sharing both the common challenges faced by Slovenia, Croatia and EU nations, as well as the best practices to date in combatting precariousness through solidarity and joint action.

The event, an annual tradition going on 6 years strong now, took on the Commonfare lens and through this prism tried to answer the questions: What do we have in common? What are common solutions – a livable minimum wage? Is a Universal Basic Income possible? Can a State with increasing precariousness still be a social welfare state? What are the shared lessons from the experience of Croatia and what can we learn from best practices in Europe? Can the new Slovenian government combat rising levels of precariousness, and how can citizens support this?
After introductory messages from members of unions and the NGO Movement for Decent Work and Welfare Society, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Slovenia, Mrs. Ksenia Klampfer gave a presentation expressing her solidarity with the precarious workers of Slovenia, and positively affirming that fighting precariousness and ensuring quality welfare services was the duty of the State.

Dr. Srečo Dragos from the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Ljubljana and Dr. Darja Senčur Peček from the Faculty of Law at the University of Maribor presented the state of precarious work in Slovenia, while Mr. Marko Funkl, a candidate for Mayor of the city of Hrastnik and an activist for youth workers then discussed the different methods taken in Slovenia for raising awareness amongst youth about their worker’s rights, for mobilizing precarious workers and organizing actions to influence public policy. Mrs. Pleić from the Centre for Peace Studies in Croatia and on behalf of presented the results of the PIE News Research Report on inequality, unemployment and precarious work in Croatia, with a focus on the common challenges faced by all EU nations, and in particular new members at the periphery. She introduced the concept of „Commonfare“ and the platform as an experiment in citizen solidarity, joing learning, and sharing. Finally, Mr. Dejan Navodnik from Movement for Decent Work and Welfare Society discussed the future of citizen solidarity, in particular what can be done to organize young people to improve their situations in the homeland at the periphery, whether that be Slovenia, Croatia, Greece or Spain, as opposed to moving to the central EU states where wages and living conditions are higher than at the periphery. A very lively debate with the audience ensued about the common challenges faced by individuals all across the EU, and the difficulty of solving this crucial issues of welfare on a national level, when the forces at play at national, regional and global.

The importance of raising awareness, informing citizens about their rights, in particular their worker’s rights, and combatting apathy amongst the youth were highlighted. It was also noted that informing and sharing best practices is a crucial step to improving quality of life for the working poor, but only the first of many steps, which must inevitably culminate in a new policy paradigm at the regional level. Nevertheless, since the decision makers of Europe are failing to address the issue of the working poor, it was concluded that grassroots changes, creating a new economic paradigm from the bottom up and starting from local changes is not only possible, but the only way to enact real change.