World News

Slovenia says police strike won't affect security

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Security conditions in Slovenia, a main route into the European Union for thousands of migrants, are not expected to deteriorate as a result of a strike by police that began on Wednesday, the interior minister said.

Police demanding pay rises of 35 percent, better equipment and more personnel, are required by law to continue providing services needed to ensure security even during the strike, which trade unions say will continue indefinitely.

“The strike will be in line with legislation so we do not expect it to affect security of citizens,” Interior Minister Vesna Gyorkos Znidar told a news conference on Tuesday, saying the police demands were “legitimate” and will be discussed at a government session later on Wednesday.

A big wage increase for police would further jeopardise government efforts to reduce the budget deficit to 2.3 percent in 2016 from 2.9 percent expected this year.

Slovenia has already raised the deficit target to reflect the costs of dealing with the migrant crisis.

More than 231,000 migrants have entered Slovenia since mid-October, when Hungary closed its border with Croatia and pushed the migrant route to Austria and Germany westwards.

The smallest country on the migrant route has so far erected about 37 kilometres of temporary fence on its border with Croatia to help manage the influx, in which the police and army are being assisted by about 190 policemen from other EU states.

At the start of his career, a policeman in Slovenia earns a gross monthly wage of 960 euros according to the Trade Union of Policemen, well below the average gross wage, which was 1,522 euros per month in September.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Catherine Evans