Monday, 30 August 2021

SSSH: Collective Deals Enable Greatest Number of Additional Days to Annual Leave

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - The SSSH union federation warned on Monday that the analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has indicated that Croatia workers, similar to those in Germany, benefit from collective bargaining most when it comes to annual leave.

"The ETUC analysis shows that Croatian and German workers benefit the most from collective bargaining when it comes to the length of annual leave, or the number of additional days of paid leave. In working units where national and branch collective agreements are applied, Croatian and German workers have an average of ten days more annual leave than the legal minimum," the union said in a press release.

The union underlined that workers covered by a collective agreement on average have 24.5 days of annual leave compared to  21.5 days for workers without collective agreements.

Collective agreements only applied in public sector, construction and partially in tourism

SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said the ETUC analysis only covered some sectors such as the public sector, and construction and partially tourism in the private sector.

The unions are intensively working on reviving collective bargaining in other sectors and expect the government to recognise the benefits of collective bargaining for society. 

The ETUC and SSSH called on national governments and EU institutions to ensure all workers benefit from collective bargaining and warned that the number of workers covered by collective bargaining has been falling since 2000.

"The European Parliament will mull over a draft directive this autumn related to the minimum wage which foresees that all member states where workers' coverage with collective bargaining is less than 70%, should prepare a national action plan to help achieve that level of coverage," the press release said.

Deputy ETUC secretary-general Esther Lynch underscores that the EU has to be more resolute and efficient so that all workers can exercise the right of collective bargaining.

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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Agreement Reached Between Govt, Unions and Protesting Orljava Workers

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - An agreement was reached on Wednesday between two trade unions, workers of the Požega-based Orljava company and the government on three monthly wages in arrears to be paid and on efforts to be made to find a new strategic partner for this clothes company.

Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat received the workers after they held a protest rally outside Government House on Wednesday, demanding talks with the government's representatives.

After the meeting Horvat said that there was no need for the protest to have been held because the government had already taken certain steps in reference to the fate of the Orljava company.

"The government is not running from its obligations. Workers will get their three outstanding salaries in accordance with the law. I promised them that they would get their pay in the next 10 days," Horvat told reporters in Government House.

Horvat: We insist on finding a strategic partner for Orljava

He said that the government is not  thinking of liquidating the company but is insisting on finding a strategic partner. We think that there is no other way out. We have launched very intensive talks with Hemco from Đakovo, he said.

Hemco is specialised inn manufacturing protective clothes.

"At the moment, all the conditions that the government has set for Hemco have not been met for it to take over Orljava, until we negotiate the final details as there is still one small uncertainty," said Horvat.

He announced that a hearing has been set for Friday when Orljava will be assigned with a trustee.

Union leader Tomislav Kiš said that they found common ground with the government and established common stances, objectives and wishes.

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Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Task Force For New Labour Act Convenes For First Time

ZAGREB, 23 June, 2021 - The first meeting of a task force to prepare a new Labour Act was held on Wednesday and social partners said that it was conducted peacefully without any complex issues and that it is expected that the law, which will more clearly define "remote work," among other things, should go into force mid-next year.

After months of consultation, it has been decided that a new Labour Act will be prepared, one that is appropriate to contemporary circumstances, state-secretary in the Labour Ministry Dragan Jelić said.

The act needs to introduce novelties that emerged during the pandemic, such as remote work and working from home, said Jelić.

The task force consists of the government's social partners, employers and the unions, and it is expected that a first draft bill will be completed by the year's end.

As for remote work and work from home, the new law will define protection, obligations by employers and employees, and the necessity for mutual approval, said Jelić.

Remote work has to be based on mutual agreement

"The current Labour Act defines the possibility of remote work, many have used that. Some have signed an annex to their contract, some haven't. There were some disputes over the cost of working from home. However, I believe that we will resolve those matters in a satisfactory way," said Jelić.

President of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions Krešimir Sever expects answers to many issues to be reached through negotiation. "Today we did not discuss any of those issues, just the introduction to the Labour Act," said Sever.

The unions will demand that fixed-term contracts be reduced as one-quarter of Croatia's employees work that way. He added that the unions are categorically opposed to extending working life.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Minister Josip Aladrović Says Union Tax Only a Proposal

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović on Wednesday denied reports that "a union tax" would be introduced, noting that media had wrongly interpreted the social dialogue on the new labour law and that that was just one of the proposals. 

"I must specifically decline the possibility of introducing a so-called union tax in the form that the media tried to depict it," Aladrović told reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet.

As for speculation that the government could accept the union proposal for the introduction of such a tax, that is, obligatory payment of a union membership fee even for workers who are not union members, Aladrović said that "the media had misinterpreted the social dialogue."

In the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and talks with unions on the new labour law, the government has decided to strengthen and encourage social dialogue and collective bargaining but that does not mean that all proposals are automatically accepted, he said.

"Certain proposals and solutions have been interpreted as if they are going to go into force immediately, but that is only one negotiating possibility, one of the proposal by workers and nothing more," said the minister.

He added that consultations with unions and employers on the new labour legislation were finished, that agreement had been reached on many issues and that soon a task force would be set up to draw up a new law.

No comment on court ruling in case of gay couple's motion for adoption 

Aladrović would not comment on the Zagreb Administrative Court ruling in the case of life partners Mladen Kožić and Ivo Šegota, stressing that it was a non-final ruling.

The Rainbow Families association of LGBTIQ couples and individuals who have or want to have children said earlier in the day that the court had decided that Kožić and Šegota had been discriminated against when in 2016 they were prevented from undergoing the process of evaluation for adoption.

In 2020 the two men were granted the right to provide foster care.

The association's president, Daniel Martinović, said the court ruled that the two men must not be discriminated against because they are life partners.

The ruling, Martinović said, confirms that life partners in Croatia can adopt.

He noted that the ruling was still not final and expressed a wish for the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy not to appeal against it, thus respecting a Constitutional Court ruling of 2020 in which the court concluded that everyone should be enabled to participate in the provision of  foster care under equal terms.

"We saw the ruling this week, we are still analysing its effects and legal possibilities," said Aladrović.

He noted that the HDZ party had expressed its political position on the matter through the Family Act and the Foster Care Act.

"We will act in line with decisions of Croatian courts, but this is only a non-final ruling," said the minister.

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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.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Health Sector Unions Refuse Gov't Offer

ZAGREB, May 27, 2020 - Health sector unions on Wednesday did not sign an annex to the collective agreement for public sector employees, expressing disappointment with the government's offer and noting that they had enabled the relaunching of the economy and the reopening of borders and were against the restriction of their rights.

Considering the crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic, the government had proposed that the planned 2% base pay increases in June and October, and the holiday allowance for public and government sector employees be suspended.

"Most public sector and government employees' unions have said that they will accept the government's annex. We are against it. The doctors' union, the nurses' union, the independent union of healthcare and social workers, the Preporod teachers' union, and some of the government employees are against signing such an annex," HLS doctors' union leader Renata Culinovic Caic said.

She added that the unions could not agree to any restriction of previously agreed entitlements.

"I particularly want to warn that the government has completely forgotten about medical workers, it has forgotten that we were the ones who created conditions for the relaunching of the economy, the reopening of borders and for salvaging tourism," she stressed.

The leader of the nurses union, Anica Prasnjak, said that nurses had asked to be rewarded rather than see their rights restricted.

The leader of the SSZSS independent union of healthcare and social welfare workers, Stejpan Topolnjak, said that the government's offer was unacceptable while the leader of the Preporod teachers' union, Zeljko Stipic, said that his union was the only teachers' union to refuse the government's offer.

"There are 11 representative unions of public sector workers, six did not accept the government's offer and five did. According to the law on representativeness, this is a borderline result but sufficient to have the offer accepted. One should consider finally amending the law on representativeness," said Stipic.

He added that the government would pay the holiday bonus to all public and government sector employees as had been the case so far.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Teachers', Health Sector Unions Against Gov't Proposal For Base Pay Rise Suspension

ZAGREB, May 27, 2020 - Unions representing workers in the health and welfare sectors said on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with government officials, that their members were against a government proposal for the suspension of planned base pay increases of 2% in June and October and of the holiday allowance.

Renata Culinovic Caic of the HLS doctors' union told reporters that it was owing to the work of medical and social workers that the relaunching of tourism and economy after the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic had been made possible and that given the circumstances, doctors could not accept the government's proposal.

The Preporod union of school employees said earlier in the day that most of their members were against the government's proposal while a representative of the NSZVO union of employees in the science and higher education sectors said the union's central body had accepted the government's offer.

Talks between government negotiators and union representatives about the signing of annexes to collective and basic collective agreements for the public sector and government employees continued at the Labour and Pension System Ministry today.

The negotiations will be held separately with representatives of public sector unions, unions of employees in the science and higher education sectors, teachers and high school employees, and unions of government employees.