In a historic move, personal assistants in Slovenia launched a strike on 25 May 2023, demanding improved working conditions and better-quality services for the beneficiaries of personal assistance. This is the first-ever such walk off of this workforce who provide support for people with disabilities in their daily lives.
The strike highlights the urgent need for stable financing and adequate support in the personal assistance sector.
The workers are supported by their union Personal Assistants’ Union (SOA), a member of UNI Global Union’s Care sector, and they are asking for international solidarity.
“These workers do not take strike action lightly, and only do so because they want the conditions necessary to deliver the care that their clients deserve,” said Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNI Care. “But their struggle is not an isolated one. Unions from throughout Europe – and throughout the world – are showing solidarity because we know that inadequate funding and eroding conditions are a global problem.”
Since the union was established in 2020, with the cooperation of worker education centre Cedra, it has pushed to address the mounting problems personal assistants face in Slovenia. Insufficient public funding has been a years-long concern, leading to a decline in standards and an erosion of workers’ rights, including paid leave, benefits and work obligations.
Despite relentless advocacy efforts, the government and other stakeholders have shown a lack of willingness to listen to the concerns raised by personal assistants. That is why these workers have no choice but to strike to have their voices heard.
The workers key demands include finalizing a collective agreement; securing adequate funding for quality assistance to people with disabilities; adopting standardized norms across the sector; implementing a fair and legally compliant way to record working hours; and receiving wages for the duration of the strike.
The personal assistants in Slovenia hope to gain support from international allies to show strength to employers and the government. To show your solidarity send photos or messages of support to the Personal Assistants Union (SOA) via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.