Thursday, 21 April 2022

Pensioners' Associations Demand 10% Pension Rise

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - Two pensioners' associations on Thursday asked the government to raise pensions by 10% and change the pension indexation model, due to the rise of inflation and food prices, for seniors shortchanged in the pension reform.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, they say that in February the average pension was 35.5% of the average pay, which puts Croatia at the bottom of the EU. Last year two in three pensions were below the poverty live at just over HRK 2,900.

Since the rise of inflation and food prices poses an additional blow to pensioners' low living standards, the associations expect the prime minister to take action to protect the oldest citizens.

The associations demand that by the end of June, pensions be raised by 10% for all those who retired after 1 January 1999, saying that this would total HRK 308 million a month for 1.14 million pensioners.

The associations don't want the 10% increase to be in force only until prices on the world market are put under control, but a lasting intervention for seniors whose pensions have been cut by 10% by the then pension reform.

They also demand that pensions up to HRK 2,000 be indexed by 120% and those from HRK 2,000 to 4,000 by 110%.

The government has announced that as of next month it will pay an energy allowance for seniors whose pensions are below HRK 4,000.

The associations welcome that, but propose that seniors whose pensions are below HRK 1,500 be entitled to a HRK 400 monthly energy voucher, to which only those receiving national and guaranteed minimum allowances are entitled.

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Thursday, 13 January 2022

Pensioners' Union Against COVID Mandatory Vaccination for Over-65s

ZAGREB, 13 Jan 2022 - The Pensioners' Trade Union (SUH) said on Thursday that it was against making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for citizens above the age of 65.

The SUH union issued a press release on this topic today after Health Minister Vili Beroš said two days ago that the authorities were considering the possibility of introducing mandatory vaccination against coronavirus for senior citizens since the COVID mortality rate is higher in older age cohorts.

The average age of the deceased whose death is connected with the coronavirus infection is 76.2 in Croatia, and therefore the minister believes that mandatory inoculation should be introduced for older citizens.

However, the vaccination rate of Croatians aged above 60 is relatively high: 78.5%. On the other hand, only Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia Latvia and Estonia in the EU have lower vaccination rates in these age cohorts in comparison to Croatia, the union says.

SUH called on the authorities to refrain from any coercive measures for senior citizens.

The mandatory vaccination will be an act of discrimination based on age, the union says, adding that it holds that it is the right of every individual to choose inoculation and the type of vaccine, with full responsibility for one's own health and for the protection of the health of other citizens.

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Friday, 15 October 2021

HSU: 600,000 Croatian Pensioners with Allowances Below Poverty Line

ZAGREB, 15 October 2021  - The Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) warned on Friday that over 600,000 pensioners in Croatia received pensions below the poverty line, and that the ratio of the average pension to the average wage was never lower, amounting to 35.9 percent.

The number of poor people in Croatia is growing by the day, and according to Eurostat, the poverty line is currently HRK 2,927, while the risk of poverty rate is higher than ever before, HSU leader Veselko Gabričević told a press conference, held to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on 17 October.

"We are seeing a surge in energy prices, notably in prices of petroleum products, which is having a direct impact on prices of all staples. The last pension adjustment of HRK 68 is almost next to nothing. Regardless of the legal requirement for pensions to be adjusted twice a year, pensioners' purchasing power is decreasing and their lives are becoming harder," Gabričević said. 

The HSU is dissatisfied with the present pension indexation formula, saying that it leads pensioners into even greater poverty. It says that this issue has been raised with the National Council for Pensioners to stop a further decline of pensions in relation to wages. The party is calling for a comprehensive pension reform to increase the lowest pensions.

According to the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, 1,113,522 pensions were paid out this September, and 722,644 pensioners have pensions ranging between HRK 500 and 3,000.

Gabričević noted that 9,195 pensions paid out in September exceeded HRK 8,000, including those of members of Parliament. 

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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Pensioners' Union Warns of Neglect in Aged Care Homes

ZAGREB, Dec 2, 2020- The SUH pensioners' union and the "Treca Dob" association of aged persons on Wednesday warned of neglect of elderly people in private aged care facilities, particularly during the pandemic, and called for urgent control of those facilities.

"Even though Minister Josip Aladrovic has informed that the number of welfare inspectors has doubled (to possibly 20) and that criteria for private facilities have been made stricter, in reality, there has not been any improvement," the pensioners' associations said.

Some beneficiaries are in absolute isolation and are not receiving regular health and welfare attention or support and we are getting more and more reports of residents in aged care facilities that their movement is being restricted and personal hygiene has been reduced and that they are not being fed regularly or even being given water. Some are not being showered at all but just wiped down with wet wipes, they say.

The worst thing is that considering they are not allowed to leave these facilities their fundamental rights are being jeopardized, the SUH and the NGO said.

"Due to a shortage in staff, they are not being fed regularly, showered, allowed to step out in the yard, to call family and everything is being justified with the COVID-19 situation."

In those facilities where social welfare workers are employed, they cannot be reached on the phone and are rude to residents and their families, and cover up all the misdoings, SUH said.

The associations called on the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy to urgently take action and form an expert inquiry commission that will systematically investigate the situation in these facilities.

They also call for a reform of the welfare inspection and for its de-centralization and for citizen volunteers to be introduced who will be allowed to enter these facilities.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Pensioners Call on Government To Restore Work Of National Council For Pensioners

ZAGREB, Aug 24, 2020 - The MUH pensioners association ad the Croatian Pensioners Union (SUH) on Monday called on the government to urgently restore the work of the National Council for Pensioners and the Elderly so that dialogue on problems faced by needy pensioners could continue.

"Dealing with the problem of a growing number of poor pensioners cannot be postponed because MUH and SUH consider it a priority issue. We propose that a more favorable formula be defined to adjust pensions in order to prevent a drastic drop of the average pension in relation to the average wage in Croatia, as the average pension now accounts for only 37.9% of the average wage," the two organizations said in an open letter to the government.

They warn that the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in Croatia is HRK 2,710. Since the average pension amounts to only HRK 2,525, that shows that most pensioners already live below the poverty line, the two organizations said.

More than 703,000 or 61% of all pensioners, not including those who have acquired their pensions in line with special rules and privileges, have pension allowances that are below the poverty line. "Every retired single, and those are mostly women, with a pension of below HRK 2,710, is officially a poor person," the two organizations say.

They recall that under a plan adopted by the parliament, pensions in the next four-year term would be increased by 10%, which would make the average pension rise to only HRK 2,777 in four years' time, and this would make the difference between the average pension and the average wage amount to HRK 4,823.

"The latest figures on pension indexation of a mere 1.41% make it clear that it will be difficult to achieve the promised adjustment. That means that pensions will continue to go down in relation to both the average and the minimum wage. By the end of the current government's term, the average pension would account for a miserly 36.5% of the average net pay," the two organizations warn, recalling that Croatia is at the very bottom of the EU rankings in terms of pensions.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Pensioners' Union Presses Charges Against Split Care Home Director

ZAGREB, May 19, 2020 - The Croatian Pensioners' Union (SUH) has pressed charges against Ivan Skaricic, director of a care home in Split, believing that it is necessary to investigate further his responsibility for the "biggest (COVID-19) hotspot and dying place" in Croatia.

In the charges filed at the Split municipal prosecutor's office for grave crimes against people's health, SUH said on Wednesday the Split home was "one of the deadliest coronavirus infection hotspots in Croatia" given that as of May 18, 69 of its residents have been infected and 18 have died.

Although inspections by two ministries found no irregularities, SUH said it had pressed charges against Skaricic believing that his responsibility for "this tragic situation" had to be further investigated because of "indications that the existence of the virus was unofficially suspected about ten days before it was officially detected in the home."

"Those ten days or so probably would have prevented some residents from getting sick and reduced the number of fatalities," SUH said in the charges, adding that the outbreak was discovered on April 7, when it was said that a dozen residents were infected.

SUH said Skaricic had publicly admitted that several days before a number of residents had a fever, yet this was not reported to epidemiologists because the home did not suspect COVID-19.