Sunday, 1 May 2022

SSSH Union Federation Protests to Demand Higher Pay, More Collective Bargaining

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - The SSSH union federation marked International Workers' Day in Zagreb on Sunday with a protest march down the city streets and a rally outside the Croatian Employers Association, where they pointed to the need for pay rises and collective bargaining.

The march was held under the motto "For a Croatia of happy workers," with the participants asking for "normal working hours," "higher pay" and "open-ended contracts."

The unions' central demands and messages were higher pay and more collective agreements, notably branch collective agreements in the private sector, which employs nearly one million people, and more effective oversight of their application.

Living standards and the real value of wages are jeopardised by price hikes and inflation, they said, adding that pay rises are the only solution.

They said pay rises could only be achieved by increasing the number of collective agreements in the private sector, adding that only two are in force in Croatia and that only one was expanded to all employers.

The responsibility for that is primarily on employers and their associations, most of which refuse collective bargaining, the unions said.

SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said employers and the government should realise that the low cost of labour was history.

"Today's protest is the first warning to employers that there will be more strikes and industrial actions than ever if they refuse to bargain at the sector level", he added.

Novosel said the government was not doing enough via the Labour Act and other regulations to encourage sector bargaining, and even less to ensure proper oversight of the application of the sector agreements that exist.

He said that some Croatian workers still do not have an eight-hour workday for which workers spilt blood on the streets of Chicago in 1886.

Novosel said some workers who should not be, were working today, on a holiday, and that only Croatian workers were leaving for other EU countries while those from them were not coming to work in Croatia.

As a result, he added, there is a shortage of thousands of workers in tourism and construction "because we are at the bottom in terms of the cost of labour and the treatment of workers."

Nosovel reiterated the demand that by 2026 the average pay in Croatia should be at least €1,500 and the minimum wage €750 net.

He also criticised the unions in the Zagreb Holding conglomerate for currying favour with the employer, which he said was sacking workers instead of protecting them.

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

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Croatia's SSSH Union Federation Joins Global Protest Against Ukraine War

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - Croatia's SSSH union federation said on Tuesday it was joining in the support to the European and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which are holding a Global Day of Action for Peace in Brussels today.

The SSSH said it had condemned the Russian aggression on Ukraine in the strongest terms and demanded that the war stop and that dialogue and negotiations be established within the UN to stop further human victims and suffering.

The SSSH said the war in Ukraine was a threat to Europe's peace, stability and values as well as the international order, extending solidarity with the Ukrainian people, workers and unions.

The SSSH has paid money into ITUC's solidarity fund for Ukrainian unions and called on other Croatian unions to do the same.

The SSSH said it was at the disposal of Ukrainian refugees and preparing information material in Ukrainian on Croatia's labour market as well as labour and social rights.

It called on all stakeholders on Croatia's labour market to take into account Ukrainian refugees' vulnerable position, and on the relevant authorities to ensure their full integration.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Associations Request Urgent Meeting With PM Andrej Plenković on Regular Public Transport

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) and the SSSH trade union federation have asked Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for an urgent meeting on the regulation of regular public transport, stressing that if the meeting is not held, they "will be forced to take certain joint activities".

The answer and the date of the urgent meeting are expected by Friday, 4 June, at the latest, the associations said in a letter to the prime minister.

Employers and unionists say they have been "more than active" in proposing solutions and "more than patient" over the last three years, waiting for the final implementation of European and national regulations.

The HUP and the SSSH warn that the already ready legal solutions that were a prerequisite for signing contracts for regular public passenger transport on county and inter-county lines up to 100 kilometres are not implemented due to the inactivity of state administration bodies.

They also said that the decision had not yet been made on the distribution of funds from the state budget to counties, even though the funds, according to the SSSH and the HUP, had already been secured, and that public service contracts between counties and private transport companies involved in regular public passenger transport had not been signed yet.

"Private bus carriers from the HUP transport association account for 80% of the public transport on county and inter-county lines up to 100 kilometres and employ over 7,000 workers who are directly affected by such irresponsible behaviour of the relevant ministries," the HUP said.

Without a public service contract, the process of collective bargaining to improve working conditions in the transport sector is at a standstill and existing jobs are in jeopardy, they noted.

The operation of most public bus lines is at risk, especially in rural areas, and workers and private public transport providers haven't been able to plan their business and their companies' prospects for three years now, the HUP and the SSSH warned.

The HUP and the SSSH think that the government should make a decision on the distribution of funds from the state budget to counties (signatories of contracts with transport companies) at its next session.

They added that it was also necessary to stop discrimination against private bus carriers and their workers in relation to carriers owned by the public sector since private companies still didn't have public service contracts, while public companies did, for the same service.

They also think that it is necessary to continue with the job-retention subsidies for all companies that continue to register a decline in business and meet the prescribed criteria.

That is especially important, they said, for passenger transport on lines in rural areas, where the number of passengers is declining sharply, also because of the end of the school year and the holidays, and cannot be sustained without state support.

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

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia Joins Global Appeal "Vaccines For All"

ZAGREB, 6 April, 2021 - The SSSH trade union federation has joined a global union drive to declare COVID-19 vaccines a common good on which private profit should not be made.

The appeal was signed by more than 110 unions, social movements and civil society organisations on the occasion of World Health Day, 7 April.

Huge public funds have been invested in developing the COVID-19 vaccine, so it is a political and moral obligation to ensure vaccination for all of the world population without discrimination on the grounds of income or nationality.

The serious health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is destroying millions of jobs while making others precarious, which results in an increase in poverty and deprivation and economic and social inequality around the world. The global crisis requires and calls for saving lives and protecting jobs, reads the appeal.

The signatories call for mobilising workers around the globe on World Health Day and demand from governments and agencies to take action based on the "vaccine for all" criterion by guaranteeing universal and urgent access to vaccines for all people around the world.

They seek implementation of international law based on global justice, right to health and prevention of vaccine nationalism.

They also demand programmes and financial resources for the transfer of technologies and knowledge necessary to manufacture the vaccine in all regions and states as well as access to medicines, supplies, programmes and equipment necessary to treat COVID-19 patients.

The signatories to the appeal believe that financial support should be secured for all workers, farmers, family businesses and families who live and work in an informal economy and who have lost their income, in the form of minimum pay, and that a comprehensive emergency investment plan should be implemented for the recovery of millions of lost jobs and job preservation.

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


Thursday, 18 June 2020

SSSH Urges Parties To Present Realistic Plans For Social Recovery

ZAGREB, June 18, 2020 - The SSSH union federation on Thursday called on political parties to clearly articulate during the election campaign how they intended to ensure a social recovery, generate wage increases and improve living standards and how they would make good on their promises if they came to power.

More secure jobs, a higher minimum wage, a fair tax policy, strengthening public health and administration are some of the issues the unions want to hear during electioneering, SSSH leaders told a press conference.

"These are the demands we will put before the future government in order to change the direction in which the country is going. There can be no economic recovery without a social recovery," SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said.

Novosel added that the unions would not allow whoever came to power to let the workers down after the election.

He underscored that the future government should immediately establish a tripartite social dialogue on public policies and treat both social partners equally.

SSSH executive secretary for social dialogue and public policy Ana Milicevic Pezelj said that the coronavirus crisis had shown that the current social-economic situation was untenable and Croatia now had an opportunity for a fresh start.

The crisis has also shown that Croatia has to revive its industry and food production which it too easily gave up under pressure from various lobbyists, she noted.

Milicevic Pezelj said that it was necessary, as soon as possible, to establish a fund for a just transition, advance the education system, and ensure access to life-long learning.