Government Prepared for Further Talks with Teachers’ Unions

By 2 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 2, 2019 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Wednesday that the government is always prepared for talks with teachers' unions, which have announced strike action in elementary and secondary schools for October 10.

The unions have said that the strike will last until their demand is met for a 6% increase of the job complexity index in the education sector. They called out the government because even two weeks after talks were held the government has still not presented its stance.

Speaking to reporters ahead of an inner cabinet meeting, Marić said that the government is always prepared for talks. "My message to the unions is: I will say what I have to say at a meeting," he said.

Marić said that the unions could count on a frank and transparent discussion with him, adding that he will first tell the unions what he has to say to them and then inform the public.

Marić announced that in the coming days a meeting would be held with government employees' unions as well as talks with public sector unions. "There will be meetings not just with teachers and health workers, but also with others who wish to hear what we have to say," Marić said.

Asked whether his job was being made difficult by ministers who defend unions in the media, he said that he doesn't meddle in the work of his colleagues. "Each one of them and each one of us are working the way we think we should be," he said.

He commented on an announcement by Health Minister Milan Kujundžić that funds to settle debts to drug wholesalers would be secured through a budget review, saying that the budget review is generally made at the end of the year.

"Until now most of the funds in budget reviews went to the health sector. There will be a review at some point but I would not connect it to liabilities and debts of the health sector," said Marić.

He said that budget funds were allocated to the health sector over the past few years, recalling a financial injection of 1.5 billion kuna in 2017 and an additional 500 million kuna last year and the 1 percentage point of health contributions this year. "We provided funds from the revenue side. I am not the one that needs to answer for what happened on the expenditure side," Marić concluded.

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