Monday, 25 October 2021

Minister Aladrović Tests Positive for COVID-19

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - The Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Josip Aladrović, has tested positive for COVID-19, he wrote on his Facebook account on Monday.

"I took a test for COVID-19 yesterday after feeling mild symptoms associated with this disease, including an elevated temperature and cough. The test has turned out positive," the minister said.

"I am in touch with doctors and epidemiologists. I feel good and am continuing my regular duties from isolation at home," he added.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Minister Aladrović: 50,000 More Pension Contribution Payers Now Than Last Year

ZAGREB, 16 Sept 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrović informed the parliament on Thursday that despite all the challenges, Croatia had registered roughly 50,000 more pension insurees at the end of August than a year before and also 9,000 more than at the end of August 2019.

Minister Aladrović underscored these figures while presenting the draft amendments to the minimum wage legislation, which were supported by lawmakers.

The draft amendments envisage the stipulation of the gross minimum wage and also fines for employers who pay wages lower than the defined minimum wage.

Commenting on trends in gross minimum monthly payments, the minister noted that at the end of 2013, the gross minimum pay was HRK 2,984 and it rose to HRK 3,120 at the end of 2016,  which meant that during the term of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) government it rose only by 4.5% or by 135 kuna.

During the term of this government, it increased from HRK 3,120 to 4,250 or by HRK 1,130, he said.

The net minimum pay rose from HRK 2,496 to HRK 3,400 or by 904 kuna that is by 36.2%, he stressed and added that this June the average net monthly wage was HRK 7,175.

Aladrović said that the growth in the minimum wage was evident, however, some shortcomings had been spotted and the draft amendments were aimed at correcting them.

Parliamentary deputies welcomed the proposed changes, and some of them warned that there were still some employers who paid only the gross minimum pay, while they gave the difference to a higher earned pay directly to workers or they denied the right of employees to free days.

(€1 = HRK 7.470695)

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

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Social Care Must Be a Separate Department

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that people in charge of the social care system should admit mistakes and take the responsibility for the death of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl caused by domestic violence, adding that there should be a separate government department for social care.

"Yet another tragedy, the death of a girl from Nova Gradiška, caused by domestic violence, has again raised the issue of the efficiency and quality of the social care system in Croatia, in particular care for children," Milanović wrote on Facebook.

He said that this case, for which full responsibility is yet to be established, requires a "serious, systematic and immediate intervention" in the regulation governing social care for those most vulnerable, the children.

"It is questionable whether the present system, which is neglected, can achieve that. The fusion of government departments to give an impression of efficiency has brought about even greater negligence and an absence of supervision from the political, ministerial level," the President said.

He expressed hope that the people in charge of the social care system would have the strength to admit mistakes and take the responsibility, adding that this would be a clear signal that they recognised the problem and wanted to deal with it.

He said that the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy should finally start listening to and respecting the opinions and advice of educated and experienced people in caring for the wellbeing of children. The laws and regulations that will be enacted in the future must give priority to children's safety, Milanović said.

He concluded by saying that he was deeply convinced that social care should be a department unto itself rather than integrated into a "non-functioning mega-ministry" as was now the case.

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

Friday, 4 December 2020

HRK 8 bn will Have Been Disbursed for Support to Employers by Year's End

ZAGREB, December 4, 2020 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrovic said on Friday that HRK 7.6 billion from the state budget had been disbursed so far for job retention grants and shortened working hours, and the amount could climb to HRK 8 billion until the end of this year.

Aladrovic told reporters that the government had already outlined three measures to bail out the economy.

They are job retention grants of HRK 2,000 to 4,000 as a monthly allowance for workers which means that if an employer is shut down for more than 14 days they receive HRK 4,000 for each employee. In this case, employers are also exempt from paying contributions, which amount to about HRK 470 million. The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) updated that measure today, he added.

The second measure relates to covering a portion of all fixed costs during lockdown and that measure could amount to about HRK 250 million. A fall in turnover of more than 60% in regard to the comparable period last year (Dec 2020 to Dec 2019) makes businesses eligible for that measure. The Tax Administration will soon hammer out the criteria for this measure.

The third measure is a new package of COVID loans through the Hamag-Bicro agency amounting to HRK 1.3 billion.

This encompasses all branches that the government considers will be most exposed due to the anti-Covid epidemiological restrictions that are in force until December 21, said Aladrovic.

"We will monitor the epidemiological measures, evaluate their effect and accordingly upgrade economic measures, if necessary, in an effort to keep jobs and business activities," he added.

He underlined that negotiations with employer associations provided a series of proposals and one of them was to include micro enterprises that depend on all those who have been shut down.

"We have included them in the measures, however they have to prove a fall in revenue and that they have business connections with those sectors that are in lockdown," Aladrovic explained and added that they will be eligible for the job retention measure.

Compensation of fixed costs only applies to those who are in lockdown until December 21, he underlined.

According to Aladrovic there are three various sources to finance the jobkeeping measures, the state budget, the EU Sure programme which has provided a loan for Croatia of just over one billion euro and EU funds, or one part of the resilience programme which will provide €530 million.

He added that in the earlier phase, between March and May, Croatia absorbed HRK 1.3 billion in funds from the European Social Fund and that it plans to absorb another portion of that fund for the jobkeeping measures.

The total effect on the budget regardless of all these sources of funding at the moment is HRK 7.6 billion, which is how much has been spent on support and by the end of the year that amount could be HRK 8 billion. About 60% of that will come from the state budget and 40% from EU funds, he explained.

(€1 = HRK 7.545450

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

'Grow Croatia with Google' Initiative for Economic Recovery and Development

December 2, 2020 – With the new initiative named "Grow Croatia with Google" presented by Google, the goal is to significantly contribute to the recovery and development of the Croatian economy and accelerate the digital transformation, and thus respond to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reports, the coronavirus pandemic and the simultaneous lockdown greatly affected the economy. However, the current situation also opens up new possibilities, as consumers turn to the internet which increases the need to accelerate the digital transformation of business.

The technology that has enabled us to work and learn remotely in recent months, virtual socializing with friends and family, shopping, and using a variety of online services can play a significant role in helping SMEs survive the crisis today.

But not all companies are ready for such a rapid change, and the main obstacle for most of them who have already started an online business or are planning to do so is the lack of knowledge, skills, and tools.

‘Digitization is a significant challenge'

That's why the Grow Croatia with Google initiative seeks to accelerate economic recovery and development through the use of technology, tools, education, and advice to help 10,000 local businesses, communities, and people become stronger, more resilient, and enable faster development by the end of 2021.

"In Croatia, in cases of lack of own resources, the Ministry of Labor, Pensions, Family, and Social Policy through the network of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and active employment policy measures funded by the European Social Fund seeks to support individuals and companies through measures to educate the workforce. These measures enable the training of employed and unemployed in order to strengthen their employability," said Dragan Jelić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Pensions, Family and Social Policy.

He also pointed out that the goal is to encourage the digitization of the Croatian economy, which has been further accelerated due to the outbreak of the pandemic.


Source: Pixabay

The Grow Croatia with Google initiative is adapted to the "new normal" and is implemented in partnership with Algebra College and offers tools, courses, and advice such as free online digital marketing courses, free tools for collaborating with teams and suppliers using Google Meet and workshops to help people in acquiring relevant digital skills that can help them find a job, advance in a career, or develop a business.

"For micro and small entrepreneurs, digitization of business and the acquisition of appropriate skills is a significant challenge. That is why, in cooperation with Google and Algebra as a workshop provider, we have provided free support to our customers. I would put special emphasis on those who have decided to use our measure of self-employment and start their own entrepreneurial story. We are talking about more than 20,000 users who represent a completely new generation of entrepreneurs who will have to continue their business in the 'new normal' in which digital business and digital skills are the basis for business success," added Dragan Jelić.

Online workshops

The director of the Croatian Employment Service, Ante Lončar, also took part in the presentation of the initiative. As part of the Digital Garage initiative, the CES cooperates with the Ministry of Labor, Pensions, Family and Social Policy, Google, and Algebra by organizing digital marketing workshops aimed at strengthening the country's current and future workforce with digital skills and helping small and medium-sized enterprises.

"During July and October, the CES included a total of 390 beneficiaries of self-employment support in the workshops, thus allowing them to further improve their business. Since we saw the benefits of the workshops during our participation in the initiative, we decided to expand the target groups for education, and we offered an introductory workshop called Introduction to Digital Marketing to unemployed people and other job seekers who are in the records of the Bureau and want to expand their knowledge," said Lončar.

The mentioned workshop is currently held once a week in an online form, and since the beginning of its implementation (through November) they have included a total of 560 people. This workshop is still conducted for all interested candidates.

Reducing the digital divide

"As the traditional main drivers of economic growth gradually disappear, the digital economy, whose potential in Croatia has not been fully exploited, is taking on the role of catalyst for economic growth," said Joško Mrndže, Google's director for Adriatic region.

Namely, Mrndže says that according to the report of the consulting company McKinsey, with a strong focus on digitization, Croatia has the potential to generate 8.3 billion euros of GDP by 2025 (additional about 2,000 euros of GDP per capita).

"With this in mind, we presented the Grow Croatia with Google initiative as a continuation and expansion of the Digital Skills learning platform, which is part of the Grow with Google program, which we have trained more than 37,000 people since its launch in 2016. Through the Grow with Google initiative, we will accelerate this pace to help 10,000 Croatian citizens and companies find jobs, digitize and grow, and thus participate in reducing the digital divide in Croatia," concluded Mrndže.

The Grow Croatia with Google initiative was launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family, and Social Policy and the Croatian Employment Service, and under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia.

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

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Minister Believes Croatia Manages to Escape Worst Case Scenario

ZAGREB, April 8, 2020 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović said Wednesday that by midnight Tuesday 94,000 employers had applied for a government measure to rescue jobs for 550,000 workers and would be paid by April 15, adding that Croatia had managed to escape the worst case scenario when it comes to preserving jobs.

Aladrović told Croatian Radio that under the said measure, the government, instead of employers, will pay workers a HRK 3,250 wage for March and HRK 4,000 for April and May, adding that so far approximately HRK 760 million has been paid out.

All payments should be made by April 15 at the latest, Aladrović said.

The fiscal effect, given the fact that the state will pay out contributions for March, April and May for all beneficiaries, is estimated at between 9 and 10 billion kuna.

The measures are aimed at preserving jobs at this point I would dare to say that we have succeeded, Aladrović said.

The minister also said that pensions and social welfare allowances were secure.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Minimum Wage Requested for 253,000 Workers

ZAGREB, March 28, 2020 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović has said that by Friday, 43,000 employers sought assistance as part of the government's first set of measures designed to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, asking the state to pay the minimum wage for 253,000 employees.

Asked if he was surprised by the large number of applications, the minister said in an interview with RTL that initial estimates had predicted that minimum wages would be sought for around 500,000 workers.

He recalled that between four and six billion kuna would be ensured for those wages.

"We are glad that payments started already on Wednesday, which means that the Employment Service has been dealing with applications swiftly... we believe that it is important that the right to be paid the minimum wage be granted to everyone meeting the set conditions by the time when March wages have to be paid," the minister said.

He also noted that the government's second set of measures designed to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economic sector would not include tax write-offs or the write-off of contributions.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle 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.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Government to Present New Offer to Striking Trade Unions

ZAGREB, November 13, 2019 - Minister of Labour and Pension System Josip Aladrović said on Tuesday that he would send education-sector trade unions an invitation to a meeting to be held on Wednesday, when the government would present its final offer to union demands, adding that he hoped that after that, the strike in primary and secondary schools would end.

"I would like to say that a meeting will be held tomorrow, today we will send an invitation and we expect the unions will respond to see what the government wishes to offer," Aladrović told reporters in Government House after disgruntled union leaders said earlier in the day that they had not been called to continue negotiations with the government.

Aladrović however did not wish to reveal what the government intends to present as its final offer seeing that the unions insist on a 6.11% increase in the job complexity index in the education sector.

"I think that it would be in order to keep the offer for the meeting... We will see tomorrow if there will be any changes," he said.

He also added that the government expected the strike to end. "We expect the end of the strike considering all the increases we have offered through the basic collective agreement and through the optional increase that we offered earlier in the case that the regulation on job complexity indices is not amended."

The government has offered the unions an increase of the base wage of 6.12% next year and that it will analyse the wage system in the public sector and examine job complexity indices in primary, secondary and higher education and in science.

If the regulation on job complexity indices is not amended before 1 July next year, the government is prepared to increase the job complexity index in the education sector by 2%.

Earlier in the day, education-sector unions threatened that if the government did not send them a new offer, they would call on striking teachers to voice their opinion on the government's current proposal which the unions have referred to as "0+0."

"As far as a referendum is concerned, the unions are free to organise it if they consider it to be necessary to inform their membership of the government's proposal," said Aladrović.

With the 6.12% increase and the optional additional increase of 2% the government will have increased wages in primary and secondary schools by more than 1,400 kuna, Aladrović claimed.

"I think that from the financial aspect the government has shown good will in resolving the problem of all those employed in the public sector and state administration. I'm sorry that that has not been recognised," he added.

The continuation of the strike depends on the unions and whether they will accept the government's offer, he said.

"The strike certainly is not a good situation for students and parents. We are nearing the situation when it will be necessary to extend the school year and they certainly need to consider ending the strike. I think that the financial demands have been met and that there is no further need for the strike," Aladrović concluded.

More news about recent strikes can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Public Sector Unions Seek 3+3+3 Percent Wage Increase

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - After meeting with the government's negotiation team on Monday, president of the MHS association of trade unions Vilim Ribić stated that public sector unions are seeking a 3+3+3 percent increase of the base wage and a higher Christmas bonus during the negotiations on a supplement to the basic collective agreement.

Negotiations resumed on Monday in the Ministry of Labour and Pension System between government and union representatives over the basic collective agreement for public sector workers.

Ribić said that the unions are seeking an increase of the base wage next year on the principle of 3+3+3 percent.

"We asked for increasing the Christmas bonus to 2,500 kuna, increasing the budget base to 5,000 kuna and that Christmas allowances for children be increased from 500 to 600 kuna. We agreed to detect together how much salaries in the public sector are lagging behind other sections of society," Ribić said.

An analysis of that should be completed by the next meeting between the unions and the government. If it is proved that salaries in the public sector are 18.3% lower than in the real sector, as the unions are claiming, that analysis will serve as common stance by the government and unions that it is necessary to remove the wage gap between the public sector in relation to other segments in society.

Ribić confirmed to reporters that the meeting did not discuss an increase of the job complexity index. He does not believe that the government will ban the ongoing strike in schools and hopes that it will offer a coherent solution.

"It is necessary to find a solution so that people who are on strike are not offended and humiliated. They have to be given some sort of satisfaction while, on the other hand, the government need not be a loser," Ribić said.

The president of the Grand Council of the Independent Union in Science and Higher Education, Igor Radeka, said that education unions were still waiting for the government's invitation to negotiations.

After a meeting last Tuesday, union representatives said that they expected the government to make on offer regarding union demands this Monday. Radeka recalled that the government had asked for a time-out, but the unions have still not received any invitation to a new meeting.

Branimir Mihalinec of the Independent Union of Secondary School Employees said earlier that the strike in primary and secondary schools was continuing. The rotating strike continued today in schools in Split-Dalmatia and Požega-Slavonia counties.

Minister of Labour and Pension System Josip Aladrović on Monday said that the government is close to an agreement with state administration unions regarding supplements to the basic collective agreement, but at the moment it cannot accept the public sector unions' demand for a 3+3+3 percent base wage increase.

State administration unions are satisfied with a wage base increase of 6.12% (2+2+2), but they still want to discuss the pace of that increase.

"We are at an advanced stage of finalising an agreement with state administration unions and I expect that at the next meeting we will define the entire agreement on the base wage and material rights for next year. We have found a certain compromise and I think that both sides should be satisfied," Aladrović told reporters.

At the moment we cannot accept the public sector unions' demand for a 3+3+3 percent increase of the base wage, Aladrović said. We are offering what we offered at the start, with some possible concessions regarding material rights, he added.

As far as an agreement with unions over a mini analysis of salaries in the public sector and other segments of society are concerned, a meeting has been scheduled for November 21.

The unions claim that salaries in the public sector are falling 18.3% behind the real sector. Aladrović does not believe this to be so. "The gap certainly cannot be 18%, those are unrealistic demands. I think that by refraining from that at today's meeting, the public sector unions realised that those demands were unrealistic," he said.

For now, the negotiation positions held by public sector unions and the government are quite apart, but negotiations will continue until an agreement is reached.

"We will meet as much as it takes until we come to a compromise solution," Aladrović said.

There won't be any meeting today with striking school unions due to the minister's other commitments, but a meeting will be held on Tuesday.

"We will talk tomorrow. Our stances continue to be the same. We expect that we will resolve the issue of wages in the education sector too with the basic collective agreement," Aladrović said.

As far as possibly banning the strike is concerned, he said that it is necessary to see how tomorrow's meeting will end but for now he denied speculation that repressive action will be taken against the unions.

"We still appeal for the strike to end. We consider that a 6.12% increase of the base wage with the possibility of increasing the job complexity by 2% after 30 June is a reasonable offer," he said.

He confirmed that striking teachers would be paid their October wage but in future that will depend on the continuation of negotiations.

Asked whether that meant that striking teachers would not be paid their November wage, Aladrović said, "We can look at it that way but we will see after the negotiations."

More news about public sector in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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