Monday, 16 May 2022

Croatian Labour Force 15,000 Employees Short for 2022 Season

May the 16th, 2022 - The height of 2022's summer tourist season is rapidly approaching, and the Croatian labour force is still missing around 15,000 employees. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the director of the Directorate for Development, Investments and Competitiveness of the Tourism Economy at the Ministry of Tourism, Robert Pende, said recently on the radio that the Croatian labour force, when it comes to the all important tourism sector, currently lacks as many as 15,000 workers, although he expects the deficit to decrease as time goes on.

"Currently, according to the information we've received from the sector itself, there are about 10,000 people who should come or be employed for this tourist year," said Pende, referring to the lack of workers in the tourism sector, which is ironically Croatia's most important economic branch.

However, he pointed out that many permits for foreign workers (meaning those from non EU-EEA countries such as neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, who require special permission in order to work here) are still in the process of being requested, so he expects those numbers to be somewhat lower eventually.

MUP is notoriously slow in processing employer requests for work permits for third country nationals such as the citizens of the aforementioned non EU countries, with cases of those would-be employees throwing in the towel and going elsewhere or only being approved for their work permit when the tourist season is already well and truly underway.

"In any case, we will have a deficit, I would say, throughout the main tourist season," Pende told HRT.

The president of the Dubrovnik County Chamber, Nikolina Trojic, said that the need at the Croatian national level is certainly between 15 and 20 thousand workers that must be introduced from somewhere.

"At the level of Dubrovnik-Neretva County alone, there are certainly at least two or three thousand people who are needed to come and work this season, so it's that many would-be employees who are missing. It's very difficult to fill that number from the Croatian labour force, and we will undoubtedly have to continue to import labour from abroad,'' added Trojic.

Dubrovnik already has a significant number of employees each summer season from nearby Trebinje, which is just over the border in the Republika Srpska governed part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that alone often causes rifts among locals who remember people from Trebinje attacking Dubrovnik thirty years ago. The issue with filling the Croatian labour force isn't only an issue economically, but on a much more personal level, with many feeling that the Dalmatian coast's many restaurants should be filled with Croatian, preferably local staff, and not those from Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

From Cooking to Sending Wages Home, How Osijek Nepalese Residents Live

December the 2nd, 2021 - There are thousands of foreign workers from distant countries outside of both the EU and the rest of Europe living and working here in Croatia. Slavonia is home to many of them, and we're going to take a quick look at just how Osijek Nepalese residents living and working in that Eastern Croatian city live.

As RTL/Sib.hr writes, large numbers of Indians, Filipinos, Thais and many other foreigners are currently working in Croatia. In the City of Osijek, for example, is home to as many as 80 Nepalese nationals. Their homeland lies a distant 6000 kilometres from "Kruasija", as they call this country, but even without mountains and temples to speak of in flat Slavonia, Osijek Nepalese residents still somehow feel quite at home.

They manage to save part of their salaries and send it home, too, as is a common practice in such cultures where taking care of family is paramount. Croatian reporter Tin Kovacic found out all about how these Osijek Nepalese residents live, what they eat and just how they find life in the often overlooked Eastern part of the country.

If you type in Nepal on Google, you will see that you need to travel 6,000 kilometres (and a half) of the globe to arrive there from Slavonia. These 80 Nepalese nationals did just that, but in the opposite direction. They travelled half the world to get a job in an Osijek company that produces plastic packaging. They came legally through an agency and they pay for their health insurance, their pensions, all of their taxes and earn a living. This is what their work day looks like on the production line:

"I work here for about eight hours a day. It's not hard," Dilbach says.

They have a completely equal status with their 500 fellow Croatian nationals working here.

"They're very valuable workers. They want to help us. They're good work colleagues," says Aleksandra Peric, who is from Osijek.

After work, they like to walk around the city, which is where Tin got better acquainted with these Osijek Nepalese residents, who switched their climate for a home along the Drava. Osijek and Croatia have not been unknown places to them for the past three years.

Sunil Bam says:

"My friends have been to Croatia before. We talked about it and corresponded. They told me that Croatia is a good country. If you want to come here, Croatia is the best place."

In that Asian country, they are mainly engaged in agriculture, and Nepal continues to be one of globe's poorest countries. The average salary there is around 1,300 kuna per month, and here they have all of their accommodation and food paid for, and they earn around 5,500 kuna each month. A handsome increase.

"Oh yeah, we get more money here than we would back home. And every month when we get paid, we send a portion of it back home to our families," Bam says. For some, the plan is to earn enough and return to Nepal, and for some, to bring their family here and stay and live and work in Croatia permanently, as it seems the Slavonian temperament suits them best.

"Yes, I love the people here. They're very friendly and polite," says Manoj Achary.

Slavonian food is not foreign to them either, he adds, although they still like to cook their own traditional chicken and rice. The Bam confirmed that all food and accommodation is provided by their employer, but despite that, they still love to cook their own Nepalese dishes that they know so well. They have, however, tried some Slavonian food, comically describing ''something that looks like sausage.''

These Osijek Nepalese residents also know how to make a good lunch, according to Achary:

"We come into town and we drink your beer. Then we go to the Drava river, then we head back home,'' said Achary, who said he has grown to like local beer a lot. They naturally have the most problems with the notoriously difficult Croatin language, but they are attending Croatian classes and have mastered the basics. In order to get along as well as possible, they founded the Association of Friends of Nepal. The City of Osijek is also helping them out, organising various gatherings through the local plan for the integration of migrants, and even though they prefer volleyball and cricket, they've visited the Osijek Football Club.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Import of Foreign Workers Hampered by Croatian Bureaucracy

November the 16th, 2021 - The import of foreign labour from outside the EEA into Croatia, typically from neighbouring countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, is proving cumbersome with the infamously slow and arduous Croatian bureaucracy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Dario Knezevic writes, with the stil impaired liquidity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ''getting the staff'' and having a qualified workforce is still the biggest problem of the Croatian hospitality and catering industry, especially since wages in the sector are still low and workers prefer to choose other occupations or instead opt for emigration.

Importing workers is currently an inevitable solution as the situation grows more tense, but there are a lot of problems in this regard as well, because there is a long procedure for obtaining work permits for foreigners and Croatian bureaucracy is still running at a snail's pace, hampered by draconian laws and what often seem to be senseless rules.

The sector is still plagued by high tax burdens, and the biggest problems are being faced cafes and nightclubs who suffered tremendously during lockdowns, warned participants in the Zagreb Caterers' Forum, held on Friday and organised by the Zagreb Caterers' Association and the Independent Caterers' Association.

Cafes are on the brink of survival

"Coffee bars and nightclubs have had and continue to have a very hard time surviving, when they have little or no traffic, restaurants are doing a little better because they haven't been closed for as long as bars and clubs were, and their traffic drop is around 30 percent when compared to 2019. If we fail to make more money during the advent season, we will have a very harsh winter and the number of 1,100 closed restaurants in Zagreb could increase in relation to the very beginning of the pandemic,'' warned Zakline Troskot, president of the Independent Association of Caterers.

Officially, three requests were sent from the Forum of Caterers to the City of Zagreb. They're looking for resolutions to the problem of being allowed to operate as normal in open spaces and on outdoor terraces. They are also seeking the lowering the coefficient of utility fees for these companies from 10 down to 7, as well as more involvement from representatives of those in the hospitality and catering sector when it comes to decision-making.

They want the state to reintroduce economic assistance measures to keep jobs and reimburse fixed costs, speed up the tragic state of Croatian bureaucracy, ie the process of issuing work permits for non-EU foreigners and further tax relief, in order to ensure higher incomes of employees working in the hospitality sector.

Namely, with the exception of large employers, wages in tourism and catering are still low, and many employers don't have room for raises due to the coronavirus pandemic, and workers are leaving en masse. Quality foreign workers aren't easy to come by either.

As it has been shown that workers from neighbouring countries manage and fit in much better among foreign workers than from distant cultures, the emphasis is on the search for workers in Croatia's immediate region, but the issue is that these European countries are not EEA/EU member states. This means that the paperwork and red rape is even more of a hassle for would-be employers.

The president of the Croatian Tourism Union, Eduard Andric, revealed that his union is negotiating with the Macedonian union, in order to bring Macedonian seasonal workers in an organised manner with less paperwork and fuss. According to current interest, there are about 5,000 to 10,000 of them.

At the same time, the Macedonians are willing and interested in their employers to give them some preparatory training, whether someone comes to them or they come to Croatia a little earlier for some training.

''Because as much as Macedonians are willing to work, we've had situations where they didn't know things like the names of certain drinks, the names of certain dishes, and we'd have to really educate them to make it better,'' pointed out Andric, adding that workers from that country are more desirable to work in Croatia than, for example, Filipinos, as their culture and language are closer, and communication is therefore far easier.

He revealed that they are also talking to Slovenes about a model to employ their workers in this country during the summer, and for them to go to Slovenia in the winter, which has more developed winter tourism. And this will be worked on in cooperation with the Slovenian trade union.

For more, follow our business section.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

North of Croatia Seeing Growing Number of Foreign Workers - Večernji List Daily

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - A growing number of foreign workers are coming to work in the north of Croatia as local metal, manufacturing and construction companies have difficulty finding labour on the domestic market, Večernji List daily said on Tuesday.

Workers are coming from the Philippines, Ukraine, Nepal, India and elsewhere and there are already so many of them that there is a shortage of accommodation for them. They are staying in hotels, holiday apartments or rented accommodation, the newspaper said.

In the Međimurje region, more and more old and renovated houses in which no one has lived for years are being rented. A 200 square metre house is rented to four persons for HRK 3,200 (€425) a month, or HRK 800 (€105) per person.

"We have been well received. We don't go out much. After work, we go to our flat and watch television. Sometimes we go to the lake or to the nearest cafe for a cup of coffee," says a Ukrainian who has found a job in the catering industry. He shares the rent with a workmate, and earns twice as much as he would in Ukraine. He plans on going to Germany one day.

"There are almost no young workers available on the domestic market, notably in occupations such as bricklayers, carpenters or rebar workers. These occupations are dying out in this region," a CEO was quoted as saying.

The question of whether an inclusive centre should be opened has been raised in Varaždin County. The county's head, Anđelko Stričak, said that the local economy would have difficulty functioning without foreign labour and that the foreign nationals living and working in the region should be looked after.

Nearly 57,000 work and residence permits have been issued to foreign nationals in Croatia this year, the newspaper said.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Guidelines for 3rd Country Nationals Who Want to Work in Croatia by Anenias Zapošljavanje JDOO

June 2, 2020 - Are you a non-EU national and interested in working in Croatia? Joško Jakus, the founder of Anenias Zapošljavanje, who has hired over 300 Filipino workers since 2019, shares everything you need to know about getting a job in this beautiful European country!

As Večernji List reported in July 2017, Davor Štern, a businessman, former Economy Minister, and the Honorary Consul General to the Philippine Consulate in Zagreb, proposed to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) a temporary solution to the labour shortage in the Croatian economy - and that is to hire Filipino workers to remedy the workforce problems in tourism, hospitality, health, and construction. Mirjana Čagalj, the Vice President of HGK, agreed to further discuss this proposal after stating that there is still a shortage of as many as 3,000 employees in the tourism sector even after using up the quota of 2,080 for hiring foreign workers. She expressed the need to raise the quota for foreign workers so that Croatian companies can survive and maintain their competitiveness. According to Štern, the Philippines has state agencies for overseas employment that find and screen candidates, process their paperwork, negotiate the contract and basic salaries, organise their transport, and make sure that their workers return to the Philippines upon the termination of their contract. He claims that Filipinos are educated and industrious people and that the Croatian standard salary of 500 to 600 euros would not be too small for them. The proposal earned a lot of negative reactions including the worries that the arrival of Filipino workers would reduce the cost of wages in Croatia while the amount of work required for employees would rise because Filipinos are known for their high productivity. However, Minister of Labor Marko Pavić was not supportive of this proposal - to him, retraining Croats is his priority and hiring workers from neighboring countries is better because the arrival of Filipinos would cause a culture shock to Croatian people. 

Four years since the release of this article, Croatia has now hired over a thousand Filipino workers. 

How does Anenias Zapošljavanje JDOO work? 

We are a Croatian-based recruitment agency and together with our partner Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc, a Philippine-based agency, we recruit Filipinos to work for Croatian companies and employers, especially in the hotel, hospitality and tourism industry. So far, we have hired drivers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, bartenders, caregivers, factory workers, fish farmers, carpenters, electricians, yacht-builders, builders and fitters, butchers, and agricultural workers. We have now brought in more than 300 Filipino workers in Croatia.

 

anenias_2.jpg

Photo Credit: Anenias Zapošljavane JDOO

 

Why is there a need for foreign workers in Croatia? Is it cheaper to hire foreign workers and in this case, Filipino workers?

The salary always depends on the kind of work and the company they are working for but the company that hires a Filipino worker is required to pay for their flight tickets, visas, accommodation and food costs so in the end, hiring a Filipino worker costs almost the same as hiring a Croatian national. 

The Croatian government has been having problems with their workforce because a lot of Croatians leave the country to work in Germany and in other European countries because there, they would have better salaries and benefits. Before, the Croatian government hired workers from nearby countries like Bosnia and Serbia but there is still a lack of workforce especially for the tourism sector. Around 2018, the government became more open to foreign workers and from then on, a lot of agencies have opened to hire 3rd country nationals. By 2019, Anenias Zapošljavanje has brought in more than 100 Filipino workers.

A lot of Croatian companies and employers like to hire Filipino workers because they are good workers and are very flexible. For example, most Filipino workers have no problem doing overtime or having changing and flexible shifts; whereas most Croatians are very stern with their working time and hours. The downside in hiring Filipino workers is that they tend to talk and gossip a lot and Croatian employers are not really fond of that! Haha.

What is the first thing you need to have before working in Croatia?

 Find a good and trustworthy agency

  • Make sure you check the legitimacy of your agency first. For Filipino workers, please check if the agency you are considering is registered in the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in this link: https://www.poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/agSearch.asp Here, you can find agencies the are blacklisted too.
  • It is important that the agency is registered in POEA (or your country's equivalent) because then, the employment administration could oversee and regulate the contract and make sure that it meets the requirements and standards needed to legally employ a worker.
  • It is also important to know that foreign-based recruitment agencies are only legally allowed to recruit through POEA-accredited Philippine recruitment agencies - and that is Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc. (our Philippine-based company partner), for us.

What are the documents needed to prepare by Filipinos to get a job in Croatia? 

Placement fees

These are charges for services rendered and the standard recruiting fee from agencies. The fee varies from agency to agency, but with our partner Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc, it is usually equivalent to an employee's one-month salary.

Medical fees 

Filipinos are required to undergo full medical check-ups before getting a job abroad. This usually costs between 3,000PHP to 5,000PHP (388kHRK to 645HRK)

Shipping fee for visas 

Unfortunately, the Philippines only has the Croatian Consulate so they need to pay for passport and visa shipping from Manila to Jakarta, Indonesia where the Croatian Embassy is based. Although since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Croatian Consulate has been temporarily closed due to the main employee getting infected with the virus. Now, we need to use third-party services such as VFS Global, and this costs around 8,000PHP to 9,000PHP (1033.44HRK to 1162.62HRK); but through Croatian Consulate, it costs 2,900PHP (374.60HRK).

IMPORTANT: For this year, a new rule has been placed - the National Bureau of Investigation clearance with apostille mark and COVID-19 PCR test with 72-hours validity before their flight are now required to get a job in Croatia.

How does Anenias Zapošljavanje process this paperwork? 

Our Philippine-based partner Prime Destination International Agency organize the papers, medical and transportation of our Filipino workers in the Philippines. The candidates who were chosen to work in Croatia need to provide to Anenias Zapošljavanje the following: National Bureau of Investigation clearance, TESDA certificates, copy of passport, and resume. With these documents, we can apply for their working permit here in Croatia and the working permit usually gets released more or less within 16 days upon submission.

After Anenias Zapošljavanje secures the working permit, the employer/company will pay what they need to shoulder. This includes visa fees, cost of the working permits, flight tickets and travel insurance of the Filipino workers. 

What are the salary and benefits a Filipino worker can get in Croatia?

After Filipino workers arrive in Croatia, they need to report to the nearest police station where they will be staying. After this, Filipino workers will get their OIB (tax identification number), a bank account with their work contract, pension fund (Mirovinski), and healthcare card (Zdravstveno Osiguranje)

Salary

It depends from job to job but usually, the minimum salary is from 3,700HRK to 4,000HRK. To calculate your gross salary vs. net salary: you may refer here: https://www.rrif.hr/wct_index.php?run=kalk116&wct=230&fbclid=IwAR2OARxLCRrslLvmj1pis1eTsg-5G9dlCYsemds2EsjzCkFiylcqhi3fpPU

Meals and accommodation 

It is mandatory for the company who hired them to provide their workers food and accommodation. If food is not provided, they should at least give a meal allowance of 500HRK. If meals and accommodation are not provided by the company, Filipino workers may refuse to work and are allowed to break the contract with the company. This is usually stated in the contract that follows the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Basic Health Care

All workers are entitled to basic health care paid by their employers. In Anenias Zapošljavanje, we also get our Filipino workers' supplementary insurance (dopunsko osiguranje).

Mirovinski Pension Fund

All Filipino workers are entitled to have a basic pension fund. In Croatia, they will get a Mirovinski 1 fund for pension and a Mirovinski 2 fund for an investment fund. Depending on how long they have worked in Croatia and how much they have contributed to this fund, Filipino workers would be entitled to receive their basic pension when they reach a certain age which is usually after the age of 60 - there is an ongoing reform on Croatian pension system so you can refer to this link to get the latest updates on your Mirovinski pension fund: https://www.mirovinsko.hr/hr/mirovine/10

Additional benefits

If you manage to get a good job in Croatia that has a higher salary which is around 7,000HRK, you will have a chance to bring a family member to Croatia. The law in Croatia is that you can reunite with a family member if you are financially able to support them - you need to at least have 2,000HRK per dependent. This is highly beneficial for single parents with 1 kid or 2 kids because unlike in the Philippines, education and health care in Croatia are free.

If your employer likes your performance and asked you to stay permanently - then you will be considered as a highly qualified 3rd-country national. After continuously working in Croatia for at least 4 years, you will be entitled to apply for a permanent residency in Croatia. If you manage to work in Croatia continuously for 7 years, then you will be entitled to apply for citizenship considering you have a certificate of Croatian language proficiency.

Since Croatia relies a lot on tourism, how long does a working contract with a Filipino worker last? Are they entitled to go home at least once per year in the Philippines?

We always give them a one-year contract, if not, at least for 8 months. They are entitled to go home after that. It always depends on the company if they want to renew the contract or send them home after the contract finishes. 

What is your advice to Filipinos who want to work in Croatia? 

Always, always always check your contract!!! Prior to departing the Philippines, you will sign a contract that was checked and approved by POEA. When you arrive in Croatia, the company will provide you with another contract both written in English and in Croatian. Always double-check this contract. If anything, the only contract you are entitled to follow is the one that you signed in the Philippines - which is government-approved. 

What should Filipino workers know?

Cross-country recruiting. Recently, there have been a lot of agencies that recruit from the Middle East and this is very dangerous for Filipino workers. Although these agencies are legally allowed to recruit Filipino workers who are already working overseas in the Middle East, this kind of contract would not be registered in the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency. This will leave you in a vulnerable position because your government would not be able to protect you if the contract gets breached. For example, the POEA-approved contract always makes sure that Filipino workers get free accommodation and food. It makes sure that when you arrive back in the Philippines, you will be entitled to OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) benefits - the government will pay for your quarantine stay in a hotel and all the costs of your transportation and COVID-19 tests. Also, if you get any medical emergencies, your government would not be able to assist your repatriation. This is very dangerous especially with the current circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, usually, Filipinos who were recruited from the Middle East have reported that they have spent 150,000PHP to 200,000PHP (2000EUR and 3x more than what Filipinos who were hired through POEA-licensed companies usually pay) because they also have to cover the flight ticket and visa expenses which should not happen if the contract is registered under POEA.

If your company decides to terminate your contract unfairly, your government would not be able to protect you. Without a working contract, your working permit in Croatia will be cancelled and this will turn you into an illegal alien in Croatia. If the police catches you, you would have to do the following:

You have 30 days to leave Croatia. If you don’t leave within 30 days, by Croatian law, you will receive extradition plus jail time until you secure a flight home. You need to pay a fine and on top of that, you will be black-listed. You will need to shoulder these expenses - the company and the agency who hired you would not be held liable for this.

How did COVID-19 affect your company and the Filipino workers?

Filipino workers received government Covid support during the pandemic time. Not all Filipinos did because not all employers can apply for that - only the ones that were affected by the pandemic most especially the tourism and travel sector.

It affected Anenias Zapošljavanje a lot. We were supposed to bring 86 people last year for the tourism industry and I managed to bring only one. 

Any message you want to send to the 3rd country nationals who want to work in Croatia?

Be smart and use your brain! 

For more news about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Mere 41% of This Year's Work Permits for Foreigners Used - Daily

ZAGREB, Aug 13, 2020 - According to data provided by the Interior Ministry, only 41% of the quota for foreign workers was claimed until 31 July, the Vecernji List daily reported on Thursday.

In late 2019, the Croatian government decided that it would be possible to issue 78,470 work permits for foreigners in 2020. The quota includes new employment of foreigners, seasonal employment, transfer of workers within a company, and employment for strategical investment projects.

This quota was set before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. In the meantime, the COVID pandemic led to an economic downturn globally.

The tourist sector has been hit hard, and while Croatia's tourism and hospitality service could count on 18,370 permits for foreign workers, eventually, 30% of those permits were used.

According to the data provided by the ministry, a mere 24,539 work permits for foreigners were claimed in the construction and tourism sectors until 31 July. If the number of requests for permits that are currently being processed are added, the tally stands at 32,195 permits, which is 41% of the total quota.

In recent years, Croatia's authorities have raised quotas following the emigration of local employees as well as because of economic growth which has increased the demand for workers.

For instance, during the peak of the tourist season in 2019, 84% of work permits for foreigners were used, out of the quota of 53,600. All the permits allotted for the employment of foreigners in construction and tourist trade were claimed until the end of July that year.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Foreign Workers in Croatia: Ten Nepalis and Filipinos Working in Sibenik

Foreign workers in Croatia are helping to patch up the country's concerning gaps in the labour market which have been caused primarily by the ongoing demographic crisis. 

As Novac/Privredni.hr/Jozo Vrdoljak writes on the 5th of March, 2020, ten Nepalese and ten Filipinos have started working at the Iskra Shipyard Sibenik. Their arrival solved this company's problem of the shortage of workers on the Croatian labour market, which was also faced by the former NCP, a company which, after its takeover by Slovenian Iskra, recorded a significant increase in the volume of work done.

The Iskra Shipyard in Sibenik emphasises that they decided to import foreign labour only after they failed to find the necessary workers here on the domestic labor market.

"Before we decided to hire foreign workers at Iskra Sibenik Shipyard, we did everything in our power to find the necessary workforce in the first place in the Sibenik area and then from other parts of Croatia, but we failed. We tried to reach our own people through the CESI, the Moj posao (My job) portal and other ways, but not enough interested people contacted us.

For this reason, we hired a professional agency that brings us workers from Nepal and from the Philippines. We've got a lot of work, we're a company that wants to grow and can grow, but in order to be able to complete all the contracted jobs and get new ones, we must have the necessary manpower. In addition to welders, we're looking for electricians, mechanics, locksmiths, engineers and marine motorists. In the current circumstances, in order not to jeopardise contracted jobs, the only thing we could do was turn to the import of labour from distant markets,'' explained Roko Vuletic, director of Iskra Shipyard Sibenik.

One of the directors of the aforementioned shipyard, Ales Ekar, said that these foreign workers in Croatia were very welcome.

"They have experience in welding aluminum, and we're concentrating on building aluminum ships, in which we're very competitive globally, so the added value we are achieving is now greater," Ekar added.

The Filipinos and Nepalis are well-suited to the new work environment and, as they claim from Iskra Shipyard, have gained the affection of other Iskra Shipyard employees.

Vinko Mrdeža, Production Manager at Iskra Shipyard, says these new workers are kind, hardworking and courteous. "I'm pleased because I expected that their entry into the business would be much more difficult. It is commendable that some of our employees read some things about Nepal and the Philippines before they arrived here, and so they were prepared to welcome them as much as possible. Once they have completed the training and completed the necessary tests, they'll be involved in production,'' says Vinko Mrdeza.

For most Nepalis and Filipinos who came to work in Sibenik, this is not the first time they've worked abroad. They were engaged on construction sites in Japan and in countries in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Everything is very good and better here than we expected. The food is excellent. All of this is new to us and different from our food, but it's very tasty. Before Sibenik, we Nepalis worked to build plants in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We haven't gotten acquainted with Sibenik yet. For now, the most important thing for us is the work, and then everything else will come to our attention. We feel good here because everyone is kind and friendly to us,'' said Neil Sunil Gharti.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on foreign workers in Croatia.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Nepalese Workers in Croatia Happy with Pay and Conditions

While many people love a good old moan about the state of things in Croatia over a three hour long coffee, usually while seated in a cafe with typically strange interior design - some are more than happy with the conditions and their wages. Nepalese workers in Croatia are just some of the third country nationals for whom Croatia has eased the process of obtaining a work permit.

While nationals from the EEA and British citizens lawfully resident in Croatia are entitled to take up any sort of work or self employment without the need for a work permit, on the same basis as a Croatian citizen, third country nationals, either from Europe, such as Ukrainians and Macedonians, and those from far beyond Europe's borders, have historically struggled with the infamous Croatian red tape.

Given the fact that the Croatian demographic crisis has shaken the economy and is continuing to threaten it, the government decided to relax procedures for hiring third country nationals and will even abolish the notorious and often confusing quota system.

As Novac writes on the 22nd of February, 2020, Nepalese workers in Croatia are more than happy with their work.

''In my country, I'd get half the money for doing the same job. What pays around 1,000 euros in Croatia pay 500 there,'' explained Diwakar Bogati (which is an ironic surname in this case if you understand Croatian!), a 23-year-old Nepalese worker who works as a tomato picker in Sveta Nedelja near Zagreb.

While the salaries and working conditions offered by Croatian employers seem less and less attractive to Croats, who now have the whole of the EU as their proverbial oyster, a large number of foreigners, such as Nepalese workers in Croatia, are more than satisfied with the conditions they're offered here.

Ismet Iusufic, a construction worker who moved from Kosovo for better pay in Croatia, also shared his views on the situation.

''My salary here is higher by 500 to 600 euros, and I plan to stay in Croatia until retirement,'' Ismet pointed out.

According to Dnevnik.hr, despite the fact that the Institute currently has as many as 130,000 unemployed people ''on its books'', employers still somehow can't manage to find waiters, shop workers, cooks, cleaners, drivers and locksmiths, all of which are currently the most wanted occupations.

''The problem is that they're mostly people who dropped out of the labour market ages ago. These are long-term unemployed people who don't have the qualifications and or meet the conditions required on the labour market today,'' explained Amira Ribic of the Croatian Employers Association (HUP).

It is for this reason that they are increasingly reaching out to foreign workers. This year alone, Croatian companies will be able to hire over 103,000 foreigners.

''I think the biggest problem is that Croats no longer want to work only during the summer season. They're looking for long-term contracts that in most places they cannot get,'' says Irfan Sefulaj, who works in the hospitality industry.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Croatian Hospitality Industry Begins Search for Foreign Seasonal Workers

As Novac/Tanja Simundic Bendic writes on the 17th of February, 2020, never before have Croatian hospitality industry employers from the coast set out in search of a workforce so early before. The situation is alarming, there is a shortage of chefs, waiters, support staff, to such an extent that the search for a good worker began as early as October last year.

In comparison, in the previous tourist seasons, Croatian hospitality industry employers started looking for staff at the end of March. This year, the situation is already desperate. This is known firsthand, from the famous Croatian chef, Duje Pisac from Split, a man who last year brought 200 workers from neighbouring Serbia to work in Dalmatian restaurants.

''This year, more are coming, people of all profiles,'' he stated for Slobodna Dalmacija.

Ever since he became known as being some sort of help in getting foreign workers, his mobile phone hasn't stopped ringing. Croatian hospitality industry employers have been calling him non stop, from Dubrovnik to Istria, begging him not to forget about them, otherwise they'll end up with huge workforce issues. Pisac in Serbia two weeks ago, as he had last year rented a hotel, gave a cooking presentation and then a workshop where he sought to fill the gaps of the staff shortage in Dalmatia. He tells us that 800 people came to work in Croatia.

''It's a miracle, people really want to come to Croatia. They have a safe job here, and if they prove to be good, they also have a place here next year. Their salaries are twice as high as they are over in Serbia. They're provided with accommodation and food, and if they're good at what they do, excellent tips. We're the eldorado for them. This year everyone is interested in Dalmatia because of the strained relations between Serbia and Montenegro, too. They told me that they felt they might have some discomfort [in Montenegro] and that's why they responded en masse to us. I can’t say I was shocked by such interest, but I admit I was surprised. Obviously, those who worked with us last summer told us a lot about what was good about us,'' Duje Pisac said.

But it is far from just Serbian hospitality workers who are interested in the Croatian summer buzz. There are also Bosnian and Macedonian chefs, who have been coming to work for Croatian hospitality industry employers for years now. Owing to the utter lack of manpower, employers from Croatia throw their ''nets'' out to much wider areas in their increasingly desperate search. Their support staff come from as far away as Nepal and India to work in Dalmatian and Istrian restaurants.

''Eighty percent of the workers who came from Serbia last summer will work in the same locations this year. These are the professionals that I myself included in my team at the top restaurant of the heritage hotel in Pucisca, on Brac. The workshop is attended by top chefs. In winter, they work in luxury Serbian hotels, speaking three languages ​​each. In addition to the chefs, there are waiters who know their business well. I will tell you frankly, there is no language barrier, no thinking about where anyone came from. The guest doesn't care, he doesn't care what dialect or with what accent they speak. He just wants superior service. These people eventually get another paycheck from the tips they earn. I take my hat off to them, because when you see that old school style, the service they provide, the masterful work, I have to say that they deserve it,'' says Pisac.

Why did Croatian hospitality industry employers run into this kind of problem in the first place? When annoying political philosophising is removed, the bare truth remains. And the truth says - Croatian youth has gone. Many unemployed people wouldn't even get jobs in kitchens for auxiliary tasks such as cutting, chopping, cleaning, washing dishes. No, they think they can do more. Schools cannot produce as much staff as the market needs.

''Split has turned into a big kitchen, it smells like oil, like fat. My job is to go to restaurants and see what's on offer. For the most part, this is something inedible, which is often accompanied by poor service. Food aside, what about the waiters? They must be agile, fast, quiet, unobtrusive. They need to know how to suggest, advise, know how something is served, whether it's just a coffee or a top dish. We don't have these people.

They don't come out of schools with the knowledge that today's hospitality sector needs. And that's why we import foreign waiters. There should be some order, not every space in the city can be turned into a restaurant. The worst part is that we haven't even reached the maximum yet, and when we do, this story will just burst like a soap bubble,'' notes Pisac.

''Split is bursting at the seams in terms of the the number of restaurants. The infrastructure in the old centre is hardly sustaining it. The city under Marjan has transformed from a transit centre into a tourist destination, so many who are looking for light, fast, seasonal earnings see it as a cash cow,'' he adds.

Make sure to follow our business page for more on Croatian hospitality industry employers and the current Croatian demographic crisis.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Foreign Student Workers, Too? Croatia Considers Total Quota Abolition

The demographic crisis in Croatia isn't shifting, and nor are its extremely concerning effects. As we reported recently, half a million workers have now left Croatia's borders and are making their money, and indeed spending their money - elsewhere. Is total quota abolition the only measure left?

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), which many criticise heavily for being part of this enormous demographic problem, has claimed that without foreign workers, Croatia will struggle enormously in the forthcoming period. While EEA nationals (with the current exception of Austrian citizens) and all foreign citizens who hold permanent residence status in Croatia are free to work on the same basis as Croatian nationals and do not require any sort of work permit, the barriers are high and the red tape usually endless for third country nationals.

Back in 2019, the Croatian Government issued a decision on quota abolition for foreign (third country) nationals, marking a truly monumental step forward in addressing the huge issues facing Croatia's economy and the ability of Croatian employers to actually find qualified staff. While many deem quota abolition to have been a bad move, in the sense that more effort should have been put into retaining a domestic labour force by raising wages, lowering taxes and removing senseless, draconian rules for would-be entrepreneurs, it now seems apparent that the Croatian Government at the very least realises the velocity of the issue at hand.

Consideration is now being given to complete and utter quota abolition, which is good news for third country nationals seeking work in Croatia, or is it? With MUP being typically painfully slow and often totally incompetent when it comes to dealing with residence and work procedures for all foreign nationals, including those from the EEA who have every right to live and work in Croatia, many Croatian employers are finding foreign labour too late, with MUP only approving all of their papers after the tourist season has passed and the majority are no longer even required.

Croatia's demographic issues therefore go far beyond the rather simple idea of raising wages and lowering taxes, they are deeply embedded in the Croatian psyche because the state's outdated systems simply don't work and are actually on nobody's side. In such a toxic, stagnant situation, it's hardly surprising that rainy Ireland and the UK look so appealing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 16th of January, 2020, an increasing shortage of workers in Croatia is now becoming visible on a daily basis, and an official analysis of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has been published recently, revealing that over the past ten years, Croatia has lost half a million workers - it is now time to abolish all quotas and drop the barriers according to some.

In an urgent parliamentary procedure, the government has proposed amendments to the Student Affairs Act, which changes the definition of "student", ie, it makes it possible for student jobs in Croatia to be performed by students who are foreign nationals and who are not nationals of European Union member states, as well as students who are under international protection, and even exchange students undertaking their studies at colleges in Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more on quota abolition.

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