Sunday, 1 May 2022

New Labour Minister Says Will be Best Collaborator to Unions Demanding Higher Wages

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - During a celebration of International Workers' Day on Sunday, recently appointed Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Marin Piletić said he would be one of the best collaborators of unions, which demand an average pay of €1,500 and a minimum net wage of €750 by 2026.

"I can promise that I will be one of the best collaborators in that," Piletić told reporters in Maksimir Park, adding that he would be more than fair with the unions and the happiest if those amounts were reached by 2026.

Referring to collective bargaining, which is also one of the demands unions highlighted during today's protest rally, Piletić said that groups working on Labour Act amendments would meet tomorrow already and that he would have something to say.

However, he claimed, employers are more than aware that they require quality workers and that there are many examples of collective agreements whereby employers meet employees half way and enabled collective bargaining.

He recalled that the government has decided the Labour Act amendments should head in two directions, first to implement European directives and then to draw up a new labour bill.

He told reporters that he would meet with unions this week already. "I spoke with union representatives today and congratulated them on 1 May. We said that we are here. We exchanged numbers and will be in touch constantly," Minister Piletić said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Zagreb Mayor: Aim is to Do Away With Work via Agencies and Closed-end Contracts

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Sunday, during a celebration of International Workers' Day, that the city as employer would endeavour to improve working conditions and that the aim is to eradicate work via agencies and closed-ended contracts. 

"There has been a lot of talk over the past few days of decreasing the number of workers in Zagreb Holding (utility conglomerate), however, there has not been any mention that since stepping into office we have employed 440 people in kindergartens, at the moment we are in the process of employing 80 ZET (public transport) drivers and 40 firefighters, and we will employ 40 municipal services monitoring officer," Tomašević said addressing the public at the celebration in Maksimir Park.

"It is essential that people are employed through real job advertisements after years of being employed due to party membership, but those times are over", he added.

"On 1 May we remember all those who fought for workers' rights which we take for granted today, he said and added that the "fight has to continue." The Zagreb city authorities firmly believes in unionising and collective bargaining because that is the only way workers' rights and better working conditions can be won, and that contributes to a better society and better quality of life for all", he said.

Crowds of citizens attended the celebration in Maksimir Park where they were first greeted by Social Democratic Party (SDP) officials, including the head of the SDP Zagreb branch, Viktor Gotovac, and president of the City Assembly, Joško Klisović.

"Workers' Day isn't just a ceremony. It is a great day. We remember the fight for fundamental human rights and that fight hasn't stopped, it is ongoing," Gotovac told reporters.

He said they were fighting for workers stripped of their rights, who are not paid for overtime work and who cannot get an open-ended employment contract.

Bridge councillor Trpimir Goluža underscored that this is a time when workers' rights are quite threatened, which is obvious in the situation in the Zagreb Holding.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Milanović Says Situation Not Normal, Croatia and Europe at Crossroads

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Sunday that "we are not in a normal situation, Croatia and Europe are at a crossroads," adding that he is "sorry for Croatia" and that he will "fight with all my might" not to give room to the ruling HDZ party to destroy Croatia.

Speaking to the press in Varaždin, where he celebrated International Workers' Day, Milanović reiterated that the HDZ was a "gang."

"I watch what I say. Not everything will be nice, but 90% of the things I say have been considered beforehand," he said, adding that he does not have political instruments. "I don't have... the parliamentary majority, which I didn't steal like (HDZ leader and PM Andrej) Plenković. Therefore I have to say certain things."

The president also commented on Serb National Council president and MP Milorad Pupovac's statement that Milanović was a jug that would soon break.

"He is totally insignificant, a profiteer. People voted for me... Nobody votes for him," he said, adding that Pupovac "steals from the state budget."

He criticised Pupovac for saying in parliament that the 1995 Operation Storm was ethnic cleansing, asking him to explain that to the 7th Guard Brigade's Varaždin defenders.

"They were liberating that area not from Serbs but from a military enemy and they have not one crime behind them," Milanović said. "He's not a Serb, he's a common petty thief."

International Workers' Day

Celebrating International Workers' Day with the people of Varaždin, the president said "it's more difficult to be a unionist than ever" because "employers are dispersed on many more positions."

"A worker is someone who lives off their pay," he said, adding that inflation affects such people the most, not just in Croatia.

This situation has much less to do with workers' rights and much more with geopolitics and the systemic global policy "which is devouring us at the moment," Milanović said.

He explained that he decided to celebrate International Workers' Day in Varaždin because that northern city "has had the biggest May Day celebration in Croatia for 30 years already."

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

SDP Leader Says Government Unwilling to Amend Labour Act

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin on Saturday distributed carnations and socialised with citizens in Pula ahead of International Workers' Day, noting that the incumbent government was not willing to launch a comprehensive reform of the Labour Act announced over six months ago.

"According to recent EU statistics, Croatia is close to the bottom of the EU ranking in terms of employment and that is what we need to talk about, not just when we observe International Workers' Day but throughout the year," Grbin said, recalling that a comprehensive reform of the labour law was announced more than half a year ago but that it was not happening.

"This government is not willing to do it and lacks the capacity. It has changed the minister who should be in charge of the reform, a new one has been appointed who knows nothing about work and workers, and the problems are staying," he said, adding that data for February showed that regardless of a rise in absolute figures, the real value of wages had dropped over the past year.

"We should all focus on maintaining the value of income, of preserving the value of wages and pensions as well as on dealing with problems such as compensation for overtime work, work on Sundays and holidays and higher wages," Grbin said, adding that the reality was such that workers were still exploited.

He also called for amending the Pension Act to ensure adequate indexation of pensions to prevent their losing in value due to growing inflation.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Parliament Speaker Issues Message for International Workers' Day

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Saturday issued a message on the occasion of International Workers' Day, noting that constant social dialogue and partnership between the state, employers and unions are necessary for improving the status of workers.

"Contributing to social security, equity and the economic stability of our country requires involvement of all stakeholders in the labour market and joint efforts," said Jandroković.

Recalling that on 1 May 1886 protesting Chicago workers paved the way for the struggle for the recognition of workers' basic rights and decent life based on fairer working conditions, Jandroković said that in the current time of many challenges, it was necessary to adapt to new working conditions.

"Those challenges also serve as additional encouragement to continue creating conditions in the Croatian society that will result in equal opportunities for everyone to work productively and have a decent salary," he said, recalling that 1 May is also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and expressing gratitude to all workers who in the current challenging times do their job conscientiously, with commitment and to the benefit of their community.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Union of Civil Society Sector Workers Calls for Marking International Workers' Day

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - A trade union of precarious workers and activists on Saturday called on all workers to mark International Workers' Day as their day of fight for decent wages, better working conditions and more social and economic rights.

Calling on workers to support or join workers' unions, the union, which goes by the acronym SKUPA and brings together members of civil society organisations, also called on workers to join in a protest march to be organised in Zagreb on Sunday by the SSSH trade union federation, of which it is a member.

The SKUPA trade union was established in December 2021 as a response by workers in civil society organisations to poor working conditions in the sector.

"That includes frequently low or inadequate salaries, excessive workload, frequently unpaid overtime work and work on weekends, job insecurity, and mobbing and bullying in the workplace," the union says, noting that civil society organisations in Croatia employ around 19,000 workers.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Croatians Work Longer Hours Than EU Average, Fifth Work on Fixed Contracts

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - The average duration of working life in Croatia is 32.8 years, a fifth of employed Croatians work on fixed-term contracts, most have secondary school qualifications and work longer hours a week than the EU average, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics to mark International Workers' Day. 

The Croatian employment rate, as a percentage of employed persons in the working-age population, is 66.9%, which puts it near the bottom of EU rankings, alongside Italy (62.6%) and Spain (65.7%). The highest rates are recorded in Sweden (80.8%), Germany and the Netherlands (both 80%), and the Czech Republic (79.1%), while Greece has the lowest rate (61.1%).

Before retiring, Swedes work 42 years on average, the Dutch 41 years and Danes 40 years, while on the other hand, Italians work nearly ten years less (31.2 years), which is the shortest duration of working life in the EU. With an average working life of 32.8 years, Croatia positioned itself alongside other Mediterranean countries. The EU average is 35.7 years. 

However, a shorter working life does not necessarily mean less work during employment, as shown by Greece. According to data for 2020, Greeks worked the longest hours a week in their main job (41.8 hours), overshooting the EU average of 37 hours by nearly five hours. Croatians also worked longer than the EU average (39.6 hours). On the other hand, the Dutch worked the shortest hours a week (30.3 hours).

In Croatia, just like in the EU, most of the people in work have secondary school qualifications. More than a third of Europeans and 29.8% of Croatians hold a university degree. Ireland has the highest proportion of people with a university degree (52.9%), while Romania has the lowest (22.1%).

The proportion of people with primary school or lower qualifications is 15.5% in the EU and 7.2% in Croatia. Portugal has the highest proportion of people with these qualifications (38.7%) and Lithuania the lowest (3.2%).

In Croatia, 14.8% of employed persons work on fixed-term contracts. According to Eurostat, Croatia, along with France, topped the list of EU countries on precarious work, with 4.6% of Croatian workers working on contracts of up to three months. In the EU, 2% of workers work in precarious jobs, with the lowest proportion recorded in Romania and the Czech Republic (both 0.2%).

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment in the EU did not reach the recession levels in 2020. In the last decade, the record unemployment rate in EU27 was recorded in 2013, of 11.4%, after which it continually decreased until 2019. In 2020, the EU unemployment rate was 6.7%, up by 0.4 percentage points over 2019.

Last year, the highest unemployment rates were observed in Greece (16.3%), Spain (15.5%), and Italy (9.2%). In Croatia, the unemployment rate was 7.5%, compared with 17.3% in 2013 and 2014. The long-term unemployment rate was 2.5% in the EU and 2.1% in Croatia.

The gap in employment rates between women and men was 11.3 percentage points in the EU in 2020, according to Eurostat. The highest gap was observed in Italy (19.9 pp) and the lowest in Lithuania (1.7 pp). Croatia ranked below the EU average at 11.29 percentage points.

In the EU, a third of seats in national parliaments and governments were held by women (32.7%), with the highest proportion recorded in Sweden (49.6%) and the lowest in Hungary (12.6%). Croatia ranked close to the EU average, with 31.1% of parliamentary seats held by women.

According to data for 2020, 4.5% of employed Croatians worked less than full time and 3.1% worked from home. By comparison, a quarter of Finns and 1.2% of Bulgarians worked from home. The EU average was 12.4%. Also, 179,100 Croatians (11.1%) were self-employed.

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

Saturday, 1 May 2021

PM Plenković Issues Message For International Workers' Day

ZAGREB, 1 May 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković issued a message for International Workers' Day on Saturday, noting that this year it is being celebrated in the challenging circumstances of the fight against the coronavirus epidemic and in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes that struck Croatia last year.

"It is therefore important that we mark International Workers' Day responsibly, by complying with all the epidemiological measures in place, and that in the coming weeks when we expect more vaccines to come, we all make our contribution to the success of the vaccination campaign and thus end this health threat that we are facing," the prime minister said.

Plenković recalled that in this global crisis his government firmly stood by the workers and their families. The government has paid over HRK 100 million as part of the job retention scheme benefiting about 680,000 workers, and continues the tax reform thanks to which the income of Croatian workers and their families has increased, he said.

"Aware of the fact that the future of our economy and our country is in the hands of young generations, we have been making continued efforts to improve the status of families and promote demographic revitalization to stop the emigration, particularly of young people," he wrote.

The prime minister recalled that the government had prepared the national recovery and resilience plan providing for investments and reforms aimed at strengthening the national economy and society to ensure a speedy recovery after the crisis.

He announced that the government would continue cooperation and dialogue with employers and trade unions on issues of importance to the future of Croatia to improve the living standards of its citizens.

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

Friday, 30 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Society's Obligation is to Work More, Work Smarter

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday issued a congratulatory message on the occasion of International Workers' Day on 1 May, saying that "it is the obligation of all of us, as a society, to work more, smarter and more thoughtfully because the world around us has also changed due to the crisis".

"This year again we are celebrating International Workers' Day in the circumstances that prevent Croatian workers from celebrating that important date traditionally and appropriately. It is an even bigger problem that many people don't have a reason to celebrate because they have either lost their job or are not allowed to work and provide for themselves and their families. For over a year, the main reason for that has been the coronavirus pandemic but also the vague and dubious regulations adopted in order to protect against coronavirus which limit the right to work," the president said in the message.

He added that the state is helping entrepreneurs, "which is its obligation in a situation when it is at the same time preventing them from normally conducting business".

The current short-term measures to help the economy are welcome, but their purpose should also have been and should be to protect workers and everyone living from their work, and not profit. Those measures are not sufficient to ensure stable growth in the long term and, which is equally important, to ensure a fair wage for fair work, social security and certainty for workers, Milanović said.

Croatia has the opportunity, he says, to ensure all this if it uses the money available to us through the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in a smart, transparent and responsible way.

The biggest responsibility is on the state, the policy it leads, to recognise the new circumstances and use the opportunity that can ensure long-term stability in Croatia and a better life for our people, said President Milanović, wishing all Croatian workers and citizens a happy International Workers' Day.

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

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Unions Organise Labour Day Protest March

ZAGREB, May 1, 2018 - The Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia and the Association of Croatian Trade Unions are marking this year's International Workers' Day, observed on May 1, with a joint union protest march under the slogan "For reforms, for the people," demanding fairer wages and better working conditions, a dignified life for elderly citizens, quality education and accessible health system, effective judiciary and public administration and changed relations toward and within the EU.

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