News roundup - Wednesday, 11 January, until 3pm

Ljubljana, 11 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 11 January, until 3pm local time:

Top court upholds inadmissibility of marriage equality referendum

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court said it upheld the decision of the National Assembly to declare a referendum on changes to the family code that allow gay marriages and adoptions inadmissible after reviewing an appeal by the conservative Children Are at Stake Coalition. The court noted that it had found in two previous decisions the family code to be unconstitutional. By passing the challenged changes, the National Assembly had only followed the findings of the Constitutional Court, which is why the changes belong to the exceptions on which a referendum is not admissible, it added.

Parliamentary speaker visiting Austria

LJUBLJANA - National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič started a two-day visit to Austria as part of which she met Slovenian minority official Susanne Weitlaner in Graz. Tomorrow, she will attend the inauguration of the renovated premises of the Austrian parliament in Vienna.

Coalition parties declare support for Supreme Court president

LJUBLJANA - Coalition partners the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and the Left expressed support for Supreme Court president nominee Miodrag Đorđević. Unrivalled, he was nominated for the position by Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan. A vote on Đorđević's appointment will take place at a regular session of the National Assembly this month. Next week, the Privileges and Credentials Commission will discuss and vote on Đorđević's nomination.

Prosecutors happy about announced EUR 600 monthly bonus

LJUBLJANA - The Association of State Prosecutors welcomed the government's announcement that judges and prosecutors will receive an immediate EUR 600 gross bonus. They also laud the plan to reform the single public sector pay system by introducing a separate tier for judiciary. The decision about the monthly bonus shows that the government has started listening to the demands of judges' and prosecutors' pay negotiating groups, a development "that is undoubtedly a positive step towards sorting out the status of judicial officials", the association told the STA.

Soldiers' trade unions want higher pay too

LJUBLJANA - Two trade unions representing soldiers have highlighted pay disparities emerging from deals the government has reached with individual groups within the public sector. One of them wants to shortly meet with Prime Minister Robert Golob to discuss the matter or else it will step up strike activities. The union expects a clear assurance from the prime minister that the pay disparities will be eliminated and the union's demands implemented, including a six-bracket rise in base pay for operators in notification centres, elimination of pay imbalances at the bottom of the pay scale, and re-establishment of pay ratios between uniformed staff and other professions.

Business Club levels strong criticism at govt

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Business Club (SBC) expressed a number of critical remarks regarding the work of the current government on Wednesday, saying it expects it to lend an ear to business and to also adopt effective if possibly unpopular measures as opposed to offering populist solutions. The approach to healthcare was among the main reproaches. Several SBC representatives addressed the press to describe the dialogue with the government as satisfactory but often not reflected in the final government measures at all.

Postal workers call for proper financing of universal service

LJUBLJANA - Postal workers called on the government and the management of Pošta Slovenije to ensure proper financing and valuation of the the universal postal service, as they have to cover deficits by providing competitive services, a system that has proven to be unsuccessful. The Trade Union of Postal Workers said that one of the reasons for the issues was the failure to observe the legislative provision regarding the coverage of losses related to the provision of the universal postal service. The union noted that it was employees who made sure that the basic task of the company - the provision of postal services - was done well, adding that employees received a relatively modest payment in return.

Meta launches AMBER Alert in Slovenia to help find missing children

LJUBLJANA - Meta, the American tech giant and owner of Instagram and Facebook, is launching their missing children alert system in Slovenia in cooperation with the police. Slovenia will be the 30th country with this technology. Head of the Homicide and Sexual Offences Section of the Slovenian Police Damjan Miklič says that Slovenia is a very safe country but the police is always on the lookout for new tools to make their work more effective.

Ombudsman and mufti stress importance of freedom of religion

LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina received the Mufti of the Islamic Community in Slovenia Nevzet Porić. The pair discussed the importance of respecting the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and Porić praised the Ombudsman's Office as a unique ally in the implementation of the rights of religious communities. The ombudsman has consistently been issuing warnings about unacceptable practices in society affecting religious communities, such as various forms of intolerance in public speech or the desecration of religious symbols, the Ombudsman's Office wrote.

Spanish group Gonvarri makes move to acquire H&R

LJUBLJANA - Spanish automotive supplier Gonvarri announced its intention to acquire H&R, the majority owner of Slovenian car parts maker Hidria, together with Ljubljana-based companies Inovatis and GM&S Naložbe, Idrija-based companies Ladis and Rafis, and twelve individuals. Within 30 days at the latest, Gonvarri, which already owns a 42% stake in H&R, will make a takeover bid, intending to offer EUR 201.51 per share. The H&R group is the issuer of nearly 883,000 shares that are not traded on a regulated market.

Record number of storks spending winter in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - White storks in Slovenia are increasingly opting out of migration in winter, Birdlife Slovenia (DOPPS), a Slovenian ornithological NGO, said. This winter ornithologists counted a record 11 storks that stayed in the country. DOPPS says that a lack of food rather than cold is normally the cause for migration. The first time a white stork spent a winter in Slovenia was in 1973. Up to 2000 this was a rare occurrence in winters with not much snow. But after 2000 it has become increasingly common, with at least one stork spending the winter here every year.

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