Labour Rights Increasingly Endangered

By 27 March 2018

ZAGREB, March 27, 2018 - For the first time in the twenty years of the existence of the institution of human rights ombudsperson, the violation of labour rights was the most frequent reason why citizens contacted Ombudswoman Lora Vidović in 2017, while in recent years complaints most frequently concerned the work of the judiciary, it was reported by Vidović's office on Tuesday.

The office underlines that workers often live in the insecurity of their fixed-term employment contracts, citing as an example of gross violation of labour rights in that segment a person who signed with his employer as many as 54 work contracts over a period of 15 years.

Workers agree to work overtime without being paid because they fear losing their income, and some of them work without receiving a wage even though that constitutes an offence. According to the Ministry of the Interior, there were 365 such cases in 2017.

"Data from the complaints bear proof of the worrying situation citizens live in regardless of the level of development of the part of the country they reside in or their family status, which is why a growing number of people are leaving the country," the office says.

Discrimination is most often reported in the field of work and employment, discrimination based on age is present as well, and sometimes even people aged 40 are considered 'too old'. Non-transparent employment procedures in public services are a long-lasting problem, and citizens believe that applications for jobs are invited solely as a matter of form.

Another problem the office points to are measures of the on-the-job-training scheme that does not envisage permanent employment contracts, notably due to unclear and inconsistently applied admission criteria.

In her report, the ombudswoman calls for, among other things, re-examining regulations on fixed-term employment, improving the work of inspectors, transparently and consistently evaluating requests for training, and educating employers, clerks and union representatives about labour and employment discrimination.