Union Leaders Satisfied with Turnout for Referendum Campaign

By 28 April 2019

ZAGREB, April 28, 2019 - The turnout on the first day of the union campaign for a referendum against the planned pension reform was more than good in Zagreb while it was slightly poorer only in eastern Slavonia due to bad weather, union leader Krešimir Sever of the union initiative "67 is too much" said on Saturday.

"We still don't have concrete figures, but judging by reports on the ground, the turnout is more than good," Sever told Hina, expressing confidence that in the next two weeks unions would manage to collect more than 373,568 signatures, which is how many need to be collected for a referendum on restoring the retirement age to 65 years.

Around 300 stalls at 200 locations across the country will be open from today until May 11, for citizens to give their signatures for a referendum against changes to the Pension Insurance Act.

Sever said the sentiments among citizens were more than favourable and that union leaders were more than satisfied.

He claimed that a TV add commissioned by the Labour and Pension System Ministry, which said that a possible success of the referendum would cost the state budget 45 billion kuna, was an additional motive for citizens to want to sign the referendum petition.

"People see through the minister's messages and are commenting on them as they sign the referendum petition. That attempt to scare them was one of the motives for them to sign the referendum petition," said Sever.

By saying that a possible success of the referendum will cost the budget 45 billion kuna and result in a decrease in pensions, the ministry is trying to deceive citizens because in its calculations it takes into account only those parameters that are in the government's favour, said Sever.

He said that according to Eurostat projections, 12 European countries, including Croatia, would have a slight decrease in the share of the pension cost in GDP in the coming decades.

Sever also cited European Commission projections showing that in 2040 Croatia would have a share of the pension cost in GDP of 8.3% (as against the current share of 10.3%) and that in 2070 that share would be 6.8%.

Three union federations early on Saturday morning started collecting signatures for a referendum on planned changes to the Pension Insurance Act to prevent the raising of the retirement age to 67.

The signature collection campaign, to last until May 11, was organised by the NHS, SSSH and MHS union federations.

The union federations want the government to restore the retirement age to 65, to set the age for early retirement at 60, and to reduce penalties for early retirement from 0.3% to 0.2% per month of early retirement.

More referendum news can be found in the Politics section.