Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Unions Refuse Reduction of Public Servants' Rights

ZAGREB, May 6, 2020 - Union representatives on Wednesday said, after the start of negotiations with the relevant ministry regarding new collective agreements, that they would not accept a reduction of rights in the public sector, warning of the damaging consequences should the government persist with that intention.

The government has put forward a proposal that due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, salaries should not be increased in June and October for employees in public and state services and that employees not be paid Christmas and holiday bonuses this year.

Secretary-General of the Grand Council of the Independent Union in Science and Higher Education Vilim Ribić said the government's representatives were "destroying well-argued dialogue."

He claimed that not one serious economist in the country supports the idea of reducing demand or incomes in the public sector and that not one country in the EU has reduced salaries, and that some have even raised salaries in the public sector.

However, the Croatian government, Ribić said, is going in the opposite direction because an election is coming and it wants to satisfy the influential pressure by employers and part of the media.

Leader of the Independent Union of Secondary School Employees Branimir Mihalinec said that the government has no moral right to ask for a reduction in salaries and material rights in the public sector, much less to ask that salaries are not increased in the education sector which still need to reach the level of others in other public services.

He added that the unions had warned of the extent of the damage should the government persist with its demands to withdraw from the agreed increase of the base wage and Christmas and holiday bonuses.

"We asked that they withdraw that proposal, to once again think twice about where that would lead," unionist Igor Radeka said, adding that the unions would make their position clear once they receive the government's proposal in writing.

More economic news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Government Launches Talks with Public Sector Employees

ZAGREB, May 5, 2020 - The Croatian government on Monday held a conference call at which it adopted a decision to launch negotiations on the signing of an annex to the collective agreement for government employees and appoint the government's negotiating team.

Also adopted was a decision on the launching of talks on an annex to the basic collective agreement for public sector employees.

Decisions were adopted on the launching of talks on the signing of an annex to the agreement on an additional payment for employees in primary and secondary schools and science institutions and institutions of higher education and the appointment of the government's negotiating team, as well as on the launching of talks on an annex to the agreement on the amount of the additional payment for police officers and the dynamic of its disbursement as part of the base pay.

Some ten days ago, unions of public sector and government employees held a consultative meeting with government officials.

It was decided that official talks would be launched on wages and basic collective agreements due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Unions Staging Virtual Protest Rally on 1 May

ZAGREB, April 28, 2020 - The Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH) is for the first time ever organising an online protest on the occasion of International Workers' Day on May 1 due to the circumstances caused by the coronavirus epidemic which does not allow a large-scale gathering,

The e-protest will be organised from 11 to 12 hours this Friday on the Zoom platform and will be carried via social networks.

SSSH wishes to send the message that this crisis is an opportunity to clearly say that there is no going back to old ways and that it is time for a new paradigm of social and economic development.

During the virtual protest, workers will give testimonies about the impact of the crisis on their jobs while the SSSH will present its vision of a world, which suits the man, and the future that awaits us after the epidemic.

SSSH notes that this crisis once again has shown the value of all workers for society. That refers to medical staff but also to those workers who are rarely in focus without whom a normal life would not be possible and that is storekeepers, waste collectors, police officers, fire fighters, construction workers and so on.

Many of them are being thanked these days but above all they require their rights - higher wages and better working conditions including better health protection and work safety, rights that need to be respected, the union said in a press release.

More trade union news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Unions Against Employers' Demand for Amending of Labour Act

ZAGREB, April 27, 2020 - Unionists on Monday sharply objected to employers' demands for fast-track change of the Labour Act and appealed for support from the government while employers responded saying the amendments are necessary to regulate the "grey zone" in the economy during the coronavirus epidemic.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (GSV), which was convened at the request of the unions, union leader, Krešimir Sever told reporters that the meeting was convened to discuss the easing of the lockdown introduced during the coronavirus epidemic.

Sever added that it was more than certain that due to the vociferous demands by employers the Labour Act would also be on the agenda. However, he announced, the unions will "instantaneously close that topic."

"There is no way what they are calling for to pass because they have called for this previously and negotiated with the government when they proposed that the Labour Act be put out of force, as well as collective agreements, labour regulations...," he said.

"Now they are trying again," he claimed and said that employers are trying to disguise their attempts with the story of working from home even though small, and micro employers are already having problems and laying off workers and that they should be allowed to do so without any explanation.

He recalled that this had been in fact one of the proposals put forward by the SDP-led government of Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and that the unions had rejected that idea and would do so again this time.

"Their goal with which they are going against workers needs to be cut in the bud because many of them have used various opportunities to pressure the government. They are getting whatever they have asked and even more. It's time for the government to stand on side with unions, if not - the election will," Sever said.

President of the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia Mladen Novosel said that they had called for today's meeting of the GSV in order to be informed of the implementation of the government measures.

It is important for the government to include social partners, particularly the unions, when discussing its measures.

The head of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) Davor Majetić said that he would present the issue of the Labour Act and see what the response will be.

Addressing reporters, he said that two issues need to be resolved urgently.

"We know that during the crisis employers have less possibility to pay wages based on working contracts in many fields," he said and advocated a legislative framework so employers can alter wages without having to negotiate each individual working contract.

"Where unions exist that is easier but where there isn't a union, you have no one to negotiate with and that needs to be simplified," Majetić explained.

The other issue related to the Labour Act is the need to resolve the issue of working from home, "because when the corona crisis ends, I believe that a great number of people will choose the option of at least temporarily working from home. Clear conditions, working hours, breaks need to be defined and currently that is not the case and we are in some sort of 'grey zone,'" said Majetić.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Meeting Between Unions, Government Ends, Negotiations to Follow

ZAGREB, April 24, 2020 - Trade unions representing public and civil servants on Thursday wrapped up consultations with government representatives with the conclusion that official negotiations on salaries and basic collective agreements would follow, due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We talked about the economic and health safety situation in light of the coronavirus pandemic. We exchanged opinions on how we see certain government measures and their effects. Official negotiations will follow. We expect to.... agree on solutions to all financial challenges the government is facing, which will be to the satisfaction of employees," Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović said after a three-hour meeting.

Aladrović said that for the time being he "would not dare say" that pay cuts were necessary.

"During the entire meeting the word 'cuts' was never mentioned. We have to put the benefits of state and public servants on the table and talk about them. I am hoping for a certain consensus," Aladrović said.

The minister also said what would happen with a recently agreed increase in the wage index for education employees.

"That was not on the table today. However, I am confident that during the negotiations we will open that issue," Aladrović said.

Union representative Vilim Ribić underscored that if something was necessary, it should not be called solidarity but necessity.

"I would not say that there was understanding at the meeting, rather polemics and opposite opinions. There was a lot of discussion about the economic purpose of salaries in the state and public sector. Our opinions on the issue were opposite. We also discussed when these interventions will take place and who will be affected by them," Ribić said.

He warned that none of the EU countries was cutting salaries at the moment and that all economic experts said pay cuts would be counterproductive. "Even the Croatian National Bank governor has said that now is not the right time," Ribić said.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

SSSH for Making Public Employers Covered by Government Aid Scheme

ZAGREB, April 7, 2020 - The SSSH trade union on Tuesday proposed that the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) immediately make public a list of employers who have been granted subsidies under the government aid scheme as a measure to help them to overcome the corona crisis.

The SSSH also calls for the publication of updated figures about those out of work on a daily basis.

Without the publication of employers, the general public will not be able to have insight into how the state subsidies are used, the SSSH said in a press release in which it criticised the government for failing to provide for control of how that public money is used.

The union federation expects the HZZ to inform the public about the jobless and unemployment trends on a daily basis.

Our requests are in line with "the general interests of the society" as well as the obligation of every law-governed and responsible state, said the SSSH.

On Monday, the HZZ Steering Board defined precise criteria for eligibility for state aid designed to prop up businesses.

The Steering Board thus stated that employers who laid off workers in March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic would be entitled to apply for subsidies, provided that they reemployed those workers.

This past Sunday, the SSSH called on the authorities to insist that those workers should be employed on permanent contracts so as to prevent manipulation of the measures.

More news about coronavirus can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

SSSH: Employers Should Be Entitled to Subsidies If They Re-Employ Sacked Workers

ZAGREB, April 5, 2020 - The SSSH trade union federation suggested on Sunday that companies that had fired workers due to the corona crisis should be entitled to job retention subsidies provided that they hired the same workers on a permanent basis.

The SSSH recalls that it has recently called on employers not to panic and hastily dismiss workers, urging them to show patience, social responsibility and dialogue.

Following the latest set of measures proposed by the government to prop up businesses and save jobs, the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) earlier on Sunday welcomed the announcement by the Labour Ministry that grants for saving jobs during the corona crisis will also be made available to companies that were forced to lay off workers before the latest set of government measures.

The HUP said on Sunday that it was pleased with the ministry's announcement that the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) steering board would on Monday grant the HUP's request that employers who had had to dismiss workers due to the crisis, before the government designed the so-called April package of measures, would also be entitled to subsidies as envisaged in that latest set of measures.

The SSSH said today that it also supported the HUP's request for enabling employers who dismissed in a hastily manner workers at the start of the corona crisis to apply for subsidies provided that they re-employ those workers on a permanent basis.

The SSH also called for prevention of misuse of state subsidies.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Unions Call for Shortening Working Hours to Save Jobs

ZAGREB, April 3, 2020 - The SSSH union federation on Friday called on the government to utilise the proposed instrument to reduce working hours that the European Commission has launched in addition to national regulations for the protection of workers and to assist entrepreneurs in bridging this crisis without layoffs.

The EC has proposed a new model for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) worth up to €100 billion which should be adopted at its meeting next week, and it contains short term measures to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Joining the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) appeal sent to finance ministers in EU member states and the EU Council, the SSSH union called on the government to support the initiative and to adopt national regulations which would protect workers with public finances and in that way help businesses to bridge the crisis without laying off workers or reducing their salaries.

SURE is urgently needed to prevent huge layoffs, decrease in workers' income and a recession, SSSH concluded.

More economic news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 27 March 2020

ETUC Calls on Croatia Not to Suspend Labour and Social Rights

ZAGREB, March 27, 2020 - The European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC) on Friday condemned a possible legislative initiative that would suspend labour and social rights during the coronavirus pandemic and called on Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Labour Minister Josip Aladrović to scrap such proposals.

ETUC reminds the Croatian government of recent warnings by high representatives and bodies of the International Labour Organisation and the Council of Europe that the crisis caused by COVID-19 "should not be used, even temporarily, to dismantle human rights and social rights, in particular trade union and workers’ rights," several Croatian union federations, ETUC members, said in a press release.

"On the contrary, this COVID-19 crisis is a brutal reminder of the importance of ensuring lasting progress with respect to social rights enjoyment and it is in these times that workers and citizens throughout Europe need more social rights and support, not less," ETUC claims.

Human rights can only be derogated from under very strict and limited conditions but for ETUC "it is clear, that by pursuing this initiative, Croatia will be in violation with several of its obligations it has committed to, amongst others, under ILO Conventions, the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter."

The ETUC is also appalled by the fact that the Croatian government is putting forward such initiatives when holding the Presidency of the EU" because that is "in stark contrast" to the measures being taken by the EU and many EU countries.

ETUC also sent this letter the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, Secretary-general of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović and the president of the European Committee for Social Rights, Giuseppe Palmisano.

Croatia's SSSH and NHS union federations unofficially heard of the government's intention to suspend the incumbent Labour Act and on Wednesday called on the government to refrain from cutting labour and social rights.

The Ministry of Labour and Pension System has confirmed that something is being prepared, however it has denied that this relates to suspending the Labour Act. The ministry did not wish to release any details until it has met with its social partners.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Police Union Calls on Government to Dismiss Demands for Public Sector Wage Cuts

ZAGREB, March 21, 2020 - The SPH police union on Saturday called on the government and Ministry of the Interior to dismiss demands for public sector wage cuts amid the coronavirus epidemic, which, it said, are being made by "certain irresponsible politicians."

"At a time when some of the public sector employees, including health workers and police, are facing the most difficult period in their career, demands for cutting their wages only cause unease among them," the union says.

Police officers, who are normally faced with various risks in their work, have accepted the additional risk of infection and will carry out all tasks to be assigned to them in the coming days but they do not deserve "calls by certain politicians... for a reduction of their wages," the union said, calling on the government to dismiss such demands.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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