Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Zagreb Getting Ready for International Workers’ Day Celebrations

It all started in Chicago, where workers in 1886 demanded better working conditions, launched “a revolution" and succeeded. The news of their strikes quickly spread around the world and workers everywhere began the struggle for their rights. In memory of bloody protests in Chicago, 1 May is marked as the International Workers’ Day. Croatia joined the movement in 1890, and the first gathering was organised at the Maksimir Park in Zagreb. Workers described their demands with the three 8s: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of cultured education, reports Večernji List on April 30, 2019.

After the Second World War, the holiday’s importance increased. It became the favourite holiday after the New Year. It was celebrated over two days. In time, the struggle for workers' rights retreated to the background and 1 May is nowadays mainly seen as a work-free day spent with family and friends and with barbecues, traditional bean dishes and fun.

As usual, the largest celebration will take place in Maksimir, where mayor Milan Bandić and associates will distribute about 60,000 servings of beans with sausages. The programme starts at 9.30 am when the Zagreb Tram Orchestra will welcome the citizens. Various orchestras will continue to entertain the revellers from noon to 3 pm, while the programme at the main stage will last until 7.30 pm.

Bean dishes can be tasted at the Bundek lake as well, where the Chill & Grill festival is taking place. Tomorrow’s theme is Africa. Famous chef David Skoko will grill lamb and chicken in exotic fruit marinades, along with an African version of beans. In the evening, Soulfingers will perform.

Smoke will be raising at the Jarun lake as well, which traditionally welcomes fans of grilling and barbecues. The struggle over the tables, benches and barbecues starts early in the morning. Some even opt to spend the night there in order to reserve their place in time, since the barbecue positions are distributed on the first come first served principle.

Surrounding towns are also preparing their own events. For example, Zaprešić will organise the traditional "Grill on Labour Day" event with live music performances, while sports fans can come to Šiljakovina near Velika Gorica where a football tournament will be held, together with competition in darts, table tennis and beach volleyball.

To avoid being late, you should check the tram and bus timetables, since ZET trams and buses will run according to Sunday schedule. The markets will be closed, but most shopping centres will work as on a regular workday. If you need to go to a post office, there will two branches opened, the one in Branimirova Street, open from 7 am to midnight, and the one at Avenue Mall, open from 9 am to 9 pm.

It seems that the weather will cooperate, with temperatures reaching 20 degrees, which is ideal for outdoor gatherings. However, there is a possibility of rain, so bring an umbrella or a raincoat with you, just in case.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Jelena Pišonić Babić).

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Same Deutz Fahr Žetelice Workers Still Striking

ZAGREB, February 6, 2019 - Workers at the Same Deutz Fahr Žetelice factory, who have been on strike since January 9 due to low wages, expect that the Supreme Court will deliver a ruling in their favour after the company's management filed a lawsuit insisting that the industrial action is unlawful.

If the court rules against the strike, workers will comply with the ruling, however, they will not refrain from seeking an increase in wages, union leader Marko Ivkošić said on Tuesday.

"We've heard that the Supreme Court has made its decision and we are convinced that it will stand on our side because we fulfilled all the prerequisites to call the strike. In any case, Vukovar County Court ruled in our favour and we believe that the Supreme Court will uphold the county court's decision," he added.

He recalled that 95% of the company's 400 workers are on strike and are seeking an increase of 750 kuna and an 8% allowance for special working conditions.

According to the unionist, the cost of employees amounts to a mere 8% of the company's revenue and with the increase costs would still remain under 10%.

He added that a wage of 3,500 kuna was disgraceful adding that workers in the same branch in the region are earning a minimum of 5,000 kuna adding that 85 young workers have left the company over the past two years and have emigrated to countries where they can earn 2,000 euro (approx. 15,000 kuna).

The Županja-based factory is part of the Italian Same Deutz Fahr corporation and it produces 400 combine harvesters a year, most of which end up on the European market. It is the only factory of its kind in Croatia and prior to its privatisation it was part of the Đuro Đaković factory for farm machinery.

More news on the strikes in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Emigration, Demography Trends Impacting Labour Market

ZAGREB, February 1, 2019 - Croatia's labour market is recovering unevenly by region but the number of the jobless is decreasing faster than the number of people with jobs is increasing, which is a reflection of emigration and demographic trends, according to a Chamber of Commerce (HGK) labour market analysis.

The jobless are more inclined towards emigration, and lower birth-rates result in smaller pressure on the employment office and this impacts the population, which is decreasing in nearly every county, the analysis shows.

As with other macroeconomic indicators, the labour market is different when broken down by region, as are the speed and duration of recovery after the economic crisis which lasted several years in every county, the HGK says.

The year 2017 saw a labour market recovery both at national and county levels. That year 11 counties recorded lower unemployment than in 2008, the year before the crisis.

Although in 20 counties there were fewer jobless than in 2008, only four counties recorded a simultaneous rise in the number of persons employed. This means that the decrease of unemployment was faster than the growth of employment, which was related to demographic and emigration trends, the HGK says.

Favourable trends in unemployment began sooner than in employment, so the continuous decrease of unemployment began in most counties four years ago and every county recorded a decrease over the past three years.

Bjelovar-Bilogora, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Osijek-Baranja and Lika-Senj were the counties in which recovery began in 2015. In 2017, annual drops in unemployment exceeded 20% in ten counties, the largest were recorded in the counties of Krapina-Zagorje (-28.6%), Varaždin (-28.3%) and Koprivnica-Križevci (-27.6%).

Those three counties recorded the largest unemployment drops in the past three years as well, above 50%. The slowest decreases were recorded in the counties of Lika-Senj (-28.1%), Dubrovnik-Neretva (-28.7%) and Šibenik-Knin (-29.4%). Dubrovnik-Neretva was the only county which had more jobless in 2017 than in 2008.

In 2017, 11 counties had lower unemployment rates than in 2008, with Karlovac and Zadar counties recording the biggest differences.

More news on the emigration from Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Majority of Newly-Employed Work on Fixed-Term Contracts

ZAGREB, January 27, 2019 - Statistics provided by the Croatian Pension Insurance Fund (HZMO) show that a quarter of Croatian employees have fixed-term contracts, while the lion's share of the newly employed, that is 90% of them, are temporary workers, which is why unionists warn that the government-sponsored measures to boost employment are inefficient.

In November 2018, a total of 387,633 Croatians worked on fixed-time contract basis, making up 25% of all employed persons, and the portion of temporary employees ranged between 22% and 26% over the past three years.

The leader of the SSSH trade union, Mladen Novosel, has told Hina that precarious employment and low wages are the most important reasons for the emigration of Croatians from their homeland.

In the European Union, the average share of fixed-term workers in 2016 stood at 14.22% as against 22.6% in Croatia.

Novosel warns that the government's measures designed to increase employment, which cost 4.5 billion kuna in the past two years, are actually inefficient.

The Labour Ministry has recently stated that an additional two billion kuna has been set aside in 2019 for employment incentives. The ministry also notes that the ratio between fixed-term and permanent employment contracts has been steady for years. It underscores that under the contribution legislation, the authorities offer fiscal relief for employment of people under 30 on a permanent basis.

There are two types of fiscal incentives for employers: the first refers to exemption from paying contributions on the pay base in the first year of employment of newly-employed persons, and the other is about exemption from payment of contributions for the first five years of employment of a young permanent worker.

As a result, the number of young employees with permanent contracts rose to 45,277 in 2018 from 11,953 in 2015, the ministry says.

The SSSH insists that statistics on the number of employees alone do not mirror the real state of affairs on the labour market.

Seasonal employment in tourism is one thing and the fact that as many as 90% of the newly employed have fixed-term contracts is quite another, Novosel says.

Croatia is the champion in the European Union in terms of employment contracts for a three-month period, says the unionist. According to the figures provided by Eurostat, in 2016, 2.3% of employees in the EU had a precarious job, meaning that the work contract did not exceed three months duration, while in Croatia it stood at 8.4%.

"The share of precarious employment has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years, varying between 2.0% (in 2009) and 2.3%. Precarious work contracts are most common in agriculture, forestry and fisheries affecting 8.1% of the employees in the sector," Eurostat reported in 2018.

Among the EU member states, the share of precarious employment was highest in Croatia (8.4%), followed at a distance by France (4.8%), Spain (4.7%), and Poland and Slovenia (both 4.5%). Short work contracts were less common in Romania (0.2%), the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic (both 0.4%), as well as in Germany (0.5%).

The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) says that the share of precarious contracts is due to seasonal needs, for instance in tourism and construction industries. Furthermore, the generally high share of temporary employment contracts is a consequence of unstable business climate, HUP says.

More news on the employment situation in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Minimum Wage Increase Not Enough, Says Opposition in Croatian Parliament

ZAGREB, December 10, 2018 - Labour and Pension System Minister Marko Pavić said on Monday that the government had made a significant step by increasing the minimum wage, bringing it to 3,000 kuna as take-home pay and that the extra money people on a minimum wage will earn will be additional funds for a decent life. The opposition however, retorted that surviving on 3,000 kuna was a "mission impossible," with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Let's Change Croatia party recommending that the net minimum wage be 4,000 kuna.

"The government has decided that the minimum wage in 2019 be increased to 3,000 kuna as the net amount or 3,750 kuna as the gross amount. That increase of 248 kuna is the biggest increase since the institute of the minimum wage was introduced in 2008. Before that, during the term of this government, the minimum wage was increased twice by 5% each time and with the latest amendments to the Law on the Minimum Wage, where we excluded Saturday, Sunday, public holiday and overtime work, there was an additional increase of 3.3%," Minister Pavić said presenting a bill on the minimum wage.

During the incumbent government's term, the minimum wage increased by 504 kuna or 23.9%.

"The minimum wage as of 1 January 2019 will be higher than in nine other EU countries, it already is higher than in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia and Hungary and as of 1 January we will have a higher minimum wage than in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Estonia," Pavić underscored.

The government has sent an important message with the proposed increase and that is that it wants a decent life for its citizens, 37,000 of whom receive the minimum salary. "However, this increase won't be without compensating measures to retain employment in labour intensive industries, primarily the leather, textile, timber and metal industries," he underlined.

Last year already the law defined reliefs on contributions of 50%, which will remain in force next year too.

As of 1 January, subsidies will be available for employers who retain their workers and new measures will be introduced in 2020 for employers who create new jobs, Pavić added.

A minimum wage of 3,000 kuna for a decent life. That's a 'mission impossible'. Slovenia's minimum salary is double that of Croatia's, Ivan Lovrinović (Let's Change Croatia) said. He recalled that his party recommended that the minimum wage be 4,000 kuna as the net amount.

Pavić however said that the government was trying to balance its policy, being aware of the fact that that amount isn't a lot.

Independent MP Vlaho Orepić, objected to the fact that the bill had been put on fast track to which Pavić answered that people on the minimum salary didn't have time to wait.

MP Gordan Maras (SDP) said that any change for the better is good however, SDP too recommends that the minimum salary be 4,000 kuna.

MP Branimir Bunjac (Živi Zid) suggested that Pavić write a book about how to have a decent life earning 3,000 kuna. The book could have several chapters - how to survive with 3,000 kuna if you are single, if you have a family, if you have a loan, if your bank account is blocked, he said.

More news on the minimum wage in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Clean Clothes Campaign for Workers' Rights Arrives in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 24, 2018 - The Croatian Centre for Workers' Solidarity and the New Trade Union, speaking in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg square on Saturday, drew attention to poor work conditions in the garment industry as part of the "Turn Around, H&M!" campaign organised by the global network Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC).

New Trade Union leader Mario Iveković said that textile production jobs were the worst paid jobs in the world. "This industry, apart from being the least paid, is also one generating high profits at the expense of workers," he added.

Iveković said that Croatia was a poor promoter of decent pay that would be enough to support a family of four. "The Constitution guarantees decent pay for workers so that they can support their families, and we are still talking about the minimum wage. In my opinion, this is the biggest failure of union activity because we are not even asking for honouring the Constitution," he said.

The campaign organisers were gathering signatures to petition for more decent wages and for improving work conditions in the H&M chain. They called on citizens to sign the petition, claiming that over 130,000 signatures had already been gathered worldwide.

Clean Clothes Campaign is an international network of non-governmental organisations and trade unions fighting for workers' rights in the garment industry. In May this year it launched the "Turn Around, H&M!" campaign against the Swedish-based global garment retailer for failing to deliver on the promise it had made five years ago that it would improve work conditions and ensure decent pay.

"At risk are 850,000 workers who produce 60 percent of H&M products. In their plants in Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Cambodia and elsewhere, workers are afraid of organising themselves in unions and management sometimes work on curbing union activity. All this leads to workers' exploitation," said Ana Vragolović of the Croatian Centre for Workers' Solidarity.

During the global week of action, Clean Clothes Campaign activists in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, India, Cambodia and other countries will organise different campaigns and present their demands to H&M concerning overtime and minimum wages.

For more on Croatia’s labour relations, click here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Trade Unions Demands End to Injustice toward Workers

ZAGREB, October 6, 2018 - The Independent Trade Unions (NHS) and the Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH) drew attention on Saturday to the injustices of the global economic system affecting Croatian workers and labour legislation, stressing the need to change the existing rules.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Pension Insurance Funds Continue to Grow

ZAGREB, September 10, 2018 - Four Croatian compulsory pension insurance funds had a total of 1.882 million members at the end of July 2018, or about 58,900 more than at the same time in 2017, while their combined assets reached 96 billion kuna, according to the Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA).

Friday, 31 August 2018

Day Off for Employees Who Are Parents of First-Grade Students

Will other companies follow?

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Croatia's Tourist Industry Needs 15,000 More Workers Next Year

ZAGREB, July 26, 2018 - Croatia's tourist industry will be short of 15,000 workers next year, and the demand will partly be covered by retraining people who are currently out of work and, if necessary, by increasing the quota for foreign workers, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

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