Thursday, 8 September 2022

More and More Foreign Workers in Croatia, Where are They From?

September the 8th, 2022 - There are more and more foreign workers in Croatia, but where do they come from and what sort of work do they typically take up?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, given the fact that Croats have been leaving the country for years to try to find better opportunities, more stability and the chance to comfortably make ends meet, the laboyr market in Croatia has been (as expected) seriously disrupted and burdened by a severe lack of labour for some time now. According to the statistics of the Croatian Employment Service (CES), among the most sought-after professions for which a positive opinion was issued in the period from January to August 2022, are precisely those related to construction.

The most work permits for foreign workers have been issued for the following trades: construction workers (6,476), followed by masons (5,194), civil engineering workers (3,359), carpenters (3,299), locksmiths (2,265), welders (2,231), facade workers (2,161), electricians ( 1,727) and installers of building elements (1,645). The Ministry of the Interior (MUP) confirmed for the Baustela.hr portal that an increase in the number of residence and work permits has been observed in recent years. Back in 2019, 72,523 such permits were issued, in 2020, 66,655, and in the last year, this number increased to 81,995 permits for foreign workers.

This year, and only until July the 31st, 77,205 permits for foreign workers were issued. Of these, 48,167 were for new employment, 14,294 were permit extensions, and 14,744 were for seasonal employment. This means that in the last three months alone, 25,689 foreign workers requested such permits.

In addition, according to the data currently available to the Ministry of Interior, and regarding the citizenships of foreigners who were issued residence and work permits, the largest number this year was issued to citizens of: Bosnia and Herzegovina (23,799), Serbia (13,764), Macedonia (7,468), Nepal (7,141) and Kosovo (5,407). Regarding the activities in which foreign nationals are mostly employed in in Croatia, construction is the leader (29,702), followed by catering, hospitality and tourism (26,211), industry (9,467), transport and communications (3,765), and agriculture and fishing (1,678).

From the data they received from the Ministry of the Interior, regarding the extended permits, there is a huge numerical difference between the activities. A massive 8,517 were extended in construction, while 1,138 were extended in catering, hospitality and tourism, and only 355 were extended in trade.

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

Friday, 2 September 2022

Third of Croatian Employees Have Never Had a Pay Rise

September the 2nd, 2022 - It's hardly a secret that the Croatian economy isn't known for being a booming one where employers fight over would-be staff with pay rise after pay rise, but it is jarring to learn that an entire third of Croatian employees have never received a pay rise.

Giving a pay rise to your employees is one way to show not only your appreciation of their efforts and choice to remain with you and your company, but to further build the confidence and loyalty of your employees, and as Poslovni Dnevnik writes, despite spiralling inflation and the worries surrounding the energy crisis, only one in three Croatian employees can actually expect a raise by the end of this year.

Inflation is ongoing and as a result, the prices of just about everything imaginable have been running wild. It is making the cap between rich and poor even wider, and now more and more people are at risk of poverty than before. To add insult to injury, as analysed by the MojaPlaca (MyWages) service, Croatian wages have only grown by a very pitiful four percent when compared to last year.

Just over a quarter of Croatian employees (28 percent of them) received a raise earlier this year, while 23 percent of them received a raise for the last time back in 2021. It is worrying that a third of Croatian employees (30 percent of them) have never received a raise, despite the fact that many have been with their employers for a long time.

The amount of the average raise in the Republic of Croatia is 8 percent of a peron's salary, or 645 kuna on average. 36 percent of respondents expect a raise by the end of the year, a quarter of respondents (25 percent) don't yet know if they can expect a raise, while 34 percent don't expect a salary increase of any level at all.

When asked by what criteria raises are received/distributed in the company where they work, the majority of Croatian employees (58 percent of them) stated that it isn't remotely clearly defined when and to whom raises are given.

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

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Croatian Socialist Past Responsible for Lower Wages? Analysis Says Yes

August the 14th, 2022 - Is the Croatian socialist past responsible for the big wage gap between the country and other European Union member states which were never part of Yugoslavia? One Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) analysis says an emphatic yes.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the growth of wages over the last year has been mostly attributed to the chronic lack of workers in Croatia, but calls are regularly heard from the ranks of Croatian businessmen to the government to undertake tax reforms and finally reduce the high burdens due to which workers' wages are low compared to other countries, and their products are as such very uncompetitive.

In recent statements, they warned that 42% of an employee's gross salary goes straight to the state. However, an analysis of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) on the average gross wages in the manufacturing industry across EU member states shows that the level of wages and indeed large differences between EU countries is also determined by a number of other elements that determine labour productivity, and the most interesting conclusion they've drawn is that such differences are greatly influenced by the legacy of socialism.

The Croatian socialist past - Life behind the "Iron Curtain"

This fact can be seen at first glance from the very ranking of wages paid per hour of work by industrialists in certain other countries, because they are the highest among the older EU member states, while the countries behind the former "Iron Curtain", including Croatia, come second with gross salaries which are several times lower.

According to Eurostat data for 2021, the highest gross hourly wage is paid in Denmark (48.5 euros), while the lowest (5.8 euros) in Bulgaria is 8 and a half times less. Workers at processors in Belgium, Sweden and Germany had more than 40 euros in gross hourly wages, and almost 40 euros is paid out per hour in both Austria and France.

Among the former socialist countries, the highest gross wages are paid to employees in neighbouring Slovenia (20.3 euros), which is twice as much as in Croatia, where an hour of production costs an average of 10.3 euros. Industrial workers in the Baltic country of Latvia also have a very similar gross salary, and only salaries in Romania, along with Bulgaria, are lower than that.

This trend, although CES analysts refrain from drawing firm conclusions since the past two years we've all been operating under the conditions of a global coronavirus pandemic, shows that in most countries the price of labour in industry has increased, and this is most visible in hourly rates in Denmark and Sweden, while in some countries, slight reductions were also recorded.

Here in the Republic of Croatia back during the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the average gross hourly wage stood at 10.1 euros, a year later it stood at 9.9 euros, and last year it rose to 10.3 euros.

Due to the unreliability of the data from the time of the unprecedented situation involving the spread of the novel coronavirus, CES analysts based their further research on wage differences on 2019, i.e. data on what affected labour productivity, and thus wages, in the period from 1996 until that time. The data on the share of experts and the share of technicians in the total number of employees were also compared, and they also processed data on the extent of investments in machines and equipment during that longer period.

Impacts on productivity

It has been shown that Finland (23.8%) and Luxembourg (229%) have the largest share of experts in the total number of employees in the processing industry, while Sweden (24.8%) and France (24.6%) lead the way in terms of the share of technicians, Belgium leads in terms of industrialists (305,000 euros per worker) and Sweden (262,500) in terms of relative investment in machinery and equipment.

Former socialist countries are at the bottom again - Slovakia in terms of the share of experts (3.6), Romania in terms of the number of technicians (4.5), and Bulgaria in terms of investments in machinery and equipment (34,200 euros per worker). In Croatia, 7.6% of the employees in the industry are experts, 12.3% are technicians, and the average investment per worker was 60,000 euros.

CES analysts calculated that the share of specialists in the total number of employees, higher by one percentage point, increases wages by 3.7%, and the share of technicians by 2.7%. In the case of investments, the ratio of logarithmic values ​​shows that investments are higher by 10%, with an unchanged share of experts and technicians, associated with a higher salary level by 5.7%.

It is clear that part of today's wage differences very likely reflect the historical handicap of countries that were once socialist, and as such the Croatian socialist past should as such be taken into account. CES analysts pointed out that according to their calculations, the historical legacy of socialism reduces today's wages in the industry sector by a not at all insignificant 21% in total.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics and business sections.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Unions Want Croatian Public Sector Wages to Match Inflation Rate

July the 5th, 2022 - Unions want Croatian public sector wages to match the rate of ongoing inflation as the government's budget framework for the period from 2023 to 2025 brings the biggest increase in expenditures due to the increase in costs for the payment of pensions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the next year, the government will spend a massive 50.2 billion kuna on pension payments, which is 4.2 billion kuna more than was paid out this year.

The reason is, unsurprisingly, ongoing inflation, that is, the expected record adjustment of pensions in the second half of this year, which will spill over into next year as well. The increase in the average pension of 150 kuna, with a double-digit inflation rate, will not help any pensioner much. In a country with more than 1,200,000 resident pensioners, this significantly increases the largest budget expenditure, but the situation is also being eased by the large increase in income brought to the budget by inflation.

Negotiations this September

However, the state doesn't yet know how much the second largest expense from the budget will cost, and that relates to the payment of salaries for 250,000 employees in the Croatian public sector. The four percent increase in the base rate as of May the 1st didn't even cover the previous rate of inflation, and in September, the government is expected to negotiate with the trade unions regarding an additional increase in the base rate. The negotiations that will begin immediately after the end of 2022's tourist season will destroy the government's budget framework for the next three years, but will bring very welcome changes in this year's budget.

Back in April, the unions agreed to an increase of only four percent, although they'd asked for eight percent, and they based their request on the growth of budget revenues and the fall in the price of labour in the Croatian public sector because the inflation rate was much higher than the growth of the base rate was. They agreed to give the government a break until the results of this year's tourist season could be properly seen, but the results so far that the government keeps on bragging about mean that the trade unions will also have high demands themselves.

According to Novi list, Zeljko Stipic, president of the Preporod trade union, will demand that the base be increased as early as October the 1st this year, because the four percent increase from May has long since been overtaken by increasing inflation. Trade union veteran Vilim Ribic adds that the four percent increase from May the 1st is an annual increase of 2.3 percent, which is several times lower than the expected inflation rate this year.

''We should start the negotiations during the second half of September, but I believe that we can finish them quickly enough to increase the base rate from October the 1st onwards. The government insisted that the negotiations regarding the additional increase of the base rate this year continue when they have the results from the tourist season, but by all accounts, it will be better in terms of revenue than that of 2019 and the increase of the base rates as such cannot be avoided,'' believes Stipic.

The trade unions are ready...

The trade unionists don't want to say how much they will request from the government for this year's base rate increase for Croatian public sector wages, but Stipic notes that, at a time of constant price changes and accelerating inflation, the solution could be to agree that wage growth follows the growth of inflation rates and thus avoid the need for negotiations several times a year.

''Inflation is continuing to accelerate and we still can't see an end to it. By the time we agreed to a four percent wage increase and the government's offer to talk in autumn, the inflation rates at the time had already cancelled out that growth, and the solution is to include in this new agreement that the increase in Croatian public sector wages follows the increase in living costs,'' notes Stipic, adding that this is how the issue of compensation for transportation costs is typically regulated. The ''April agreement'' increased the transport fee to 1.35 kuna per kilometre, instead of the previous one kuna, with this amount being adjusted every time fuel prices rise by ten percent.

Ribic doesn't want to reveal how much, in his opinion, Croatian public sector wages should rise in autumn either, but he says that it's no longer possible to accept things as they currently stand, and that also includes attitudes towards the public sector.

''Back in May, the salary base increased by four percent, and in the same month, inflation, compared to May 2021, stood at 10.8 percent. It's clear to everyone that this isn't even close to what the employees in the Croatian public sector should have received as a salary. This increase of four percent means an annual wage growth of 2.3 percent. Inflation will be several times higher and the work of employees in the Croatian public sector will once again be devalued, that is, the price of their work will fall. The government must compensate for this in the negotiations in September,'' warns Ribic.

The growth of the base of four percent this year comes at an enormous cost of 850 million kuna, but the state will obviously not be able to avoid increasing that amount, writes Novi list.

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

Friday, 10 June 2022

Could New Croatian Government Plans See Work Permitted Until 68?

June the 10th, 2022 - Could new Croatian Government plans see normal employment permitted for people until they reach the age of 68? While there are certainly many industries in which this would either not be possible or would simply be undesirable, it seems that it could well be on the cards.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, one of the most interesting novelties of the Croatian Government's legislative proposals is that it proposes extending the age until which a worker can be employed from 65 to 68 years of age, as confirmed by our interlocutors from the trade union and the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

At the same time, clearly, the age requirement for exercising the right to retirement remains 65 years in this country, which is prescribed by another law, Jutarnji list writes.

In other words, Croatian employers would not be able to terminate their employment contracts held with those employees who are turning 65 if the workers themselves do not want to agree to that, and after the age of 68, it will simply become a matter of agreement between the employee and the employer.

Of course, these new Croatian Government plans open up many questions, the most important of which being; who will want to work at that age, or in which industries is such a move remotely realistic? As HUP's negotiator for ZOR Nenad Seifert pointed out, when an employment contract is indeed terminated after an employee reaches 65 years of age, workers will not be entitled to any severance pay, given that they will then retire.

In the first version of the ZOR proposal, the age limit for the duration of employment was dropped, which, according to him, seemed somewhat insane.

Nevertheless, the Republic of Croatia is among the three European Union (EU) member states with a legal age limit for the termination of employment contracts. Fierce discussions were held in the negotiations on other issues, such as the extension of fixed-term contract periods.

Both the Ministry of Labour and the unions referred to data showing that the Republic of Croatia is at the infamous European top of the list (with an embarrassing share of more than 20 percent), and about 90 percent of new employment contracts are still concluded for a certain period of time, which is a very uncertain and often unwelcome form of work.

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

Thursday, 2 June 2022

DM is the Most Desirable Employer in Croatia for 13th Year in a Row

June 2, 2022 - For the thirteenth year in a row, the most desirable employer in Croatia is the company dm - drogerie markt. In second place is the retail chain Lidl Croatia, and in third place is the Rimac Group, according to a survey by the MojPosao (MyJob) portal published on Thursday.

The survey was conducted for the eighteenth year in a row, and this time during the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 it was conducted on a sample of more than 24 thousand respondents, reports tportal.hr. It is based exclusively on the respondents' perception of the companies themselves, and its goal was to find out which employers in the Croatian labor market are the most attractive to the general public and why.

Respondents were asked to name the employer of the "first", "second" and "third" choice, with the "first" getting three, the "second" two, and the "third" one point, based on which the overall ranking was calculated.

Thus, dm - drogerie markt won 19.08 percent of the points, Lidl Hrvatska 5.57 percent of the points, and Rimac Group 4.44 percent of the points.

"The domestic company (finally) entered the top three most desirable employers in Croatia", commented the MojPosao portal on Rimac Group's new position in the ranking.

The most important: job security

Unlike in previous years, when harmonious workplace relationships were the most important factor in evaluating the degree of attractiveness of a particular employer, in the last two years the most "crucial" votes, 43 percent, have been job security. Harmonious relations in the workplace are the decisive reason for attractiveness for 40 percent of respondents, while in third place, with 37 percent of the vote, is the social responsibility of the employer.

The amount of salary and other material benefits are a crucial factor in the attractiveness of 35 percent of respondents, which is slightly more than last year, the survey showed.

For respondents for whom dm-drogerie markt is the employer of the first choice, job security is crucial, but the level of salary, harmonious relations in the workplace, and the social responsibility of the employer are equally important. Lidl is a desirable employer primarily because of job security, and Rimac mostly because of harmonious relations in the workplace.

dm-drogerie-markt is the first choice employer for respondents from all regions

Dm-drogerie markt is most attractive to both men and women, but more to women than men. It is the same company and the most desirable employer for all respondents, regardless of their level of education, but it has the highest scores among those with secondary education.

Regardless of employment status, dm-drogerie markt is the employer of choice for all groups of respondents, although it is somewhat less attractive to respondents who are still in school.

Also, dm-drogerie-markt is the first choice employer for respondents from all Croatian regions.

Among other things, the survey showed that almost half of employed respondents often think about changing employers, a third think about it sometimes, and a fifth do not think about it at all.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Croatian Construction Industry Doomed to Import Labour Long-Term?

May the 26th, 2022 - Is the Croatian construction industry simply doomed to have to import foreign (non-EEA) labour as an attempted long-term strategy to keep things afloat?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, there are fewer and fewer ''homegrown'' workers in the Croatian construction industry, and an increasing number of foreign workers on construction sites pose a number of challenges to the companies that hire them, according to the panel discussion "Challenges of the workforce" which was held in Zagreb recently.

Dragutin Kamenski, the director of the very well known company Kamgrad, pointed out that if the country successfully removed all other challenges that the Croatian construction industry is currently facing, and only the lack of manpower remaind, we'd still be in trouble.

A very complex process

"Now, the state has begun to take steps to facilitate labour migration, but it remains to be a very complex process because it requires additional efforts in bringing and introducing a new workforce to a particular company, as well as additional organisation and costs. As there is no additional base for recruiting labour here in Croatia, it's clear that in the long run we're doomed to importing foreign construction workers under any conditions,'' said Kamenski, adding that so far, they have had all kinds of situations with agencies that bring in foreign workers arise.

"Recently, a large number of agencies have appeared that bring in foreign labour, and time will show which ones are good and bring in high quality workers, and which aren't. If you end up with inadequate workers, it raises your costs and you're less competitive overall,'' Kamenski pointed out.

Based on his own many years of experience, he stated that in fact the best workers were those who did their training within large construction systems, and then eventually moved to smaller companies such as Kamgrad.

However, he is aware that is now rapidly becoming a thing of the past and that such workers no longer exist, and that now the focus should be on developing the Croatian construction industry's workers here in the country, and even more on selecting and introducing a foreign worker and then educating and introducing them to the whole process.

“Technical staff without knowledge of the Croatian language can only do a small range of work. We employ 10-15 trainees a year, of which only one or two remain,'' concluded Kamenski. Danijel Risek, the director of Hidroing, pointed out that they're a relatively small company that didn't have any major needs for the import of foreign labour, and what they did experience had a focus on nearby Kosovo.

“We're too small a company to go into the process of finding a workforce on our own, so we're referred to agencies. It's important to have a correct relationship with such agencies so that they know exactly what we need,'' said Risek. Stjepan Jagodin, the director of Pinoy385, a company specialising in the employment of Filipino workers, said that there are currently more than 300 agencies across the Republic of Croatia registered for employment mediation.

"An unregulated market leads to a situation where everyone comes to us, without any selections and conditions, and then the problem is that companies that hire such workers. In tourism, there are precise conditions that you must have and know in order to open an agency, and employment mediation can be done by anyone. That must be regulated urgently,'' Jagodin said.

Knowledge of the market

Ana Jadresin from the Manpower Group pointed out that it takes time for the market for mediation in the employment of foreign workers to be profiled. "Agencies that deal with employment mediation, be they domestic or foreign, must have a good knowledge of the market and the needs of their clients - what exactly companies need, what qualifications are necessary, what level of digital literacy there is, etc.

The problem is often that the client himself doesn't know what kind of workers he needs and what qualifications will be necessary, so it becomes difficult to meet their expectations. On the other hand, it's pointless to give unrealistic promises to foreign workers about a country with rivers full of milk and honey, because that only leads to frustration,'' stated Jadresin.

The issue faced by the Croatian construction industry isn't something new. The demographic crisis the country has been in for a very long time now has been a gradual drain on labour across all fields, even with the tourism sector, otherwise the country's strongest economic branch, also suffering tremendously. The Ministry of the Interior's infamously drawn out and draconian procedures often result in employers not getting work permits approved for their foreign staff in time, resulting in the dire need for a rethink.

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

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Croatian IT Sector Wages Lowest in European Union

May the 25th, 2022 - Croatian IT sector wages continue to be the lowest in the entire European Union (EU) despite the fact that this rapidly blossoming field has experienced a very real boom over the last few years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the cost of paying out wages for EU-based employers has continued to rise in most countries, with the exception of a few countries that stalled in 2020 and continued to grow, including the Republic of Croatia.

According to a quarterly analysis of labour market trends by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (CBS), based on Eurostat data, only Ireland, Croatia and Cyprus had a temporary halt in gross hourly wage growth, while in Spain and Italy, gross hourly wages rose in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, but last year they ended up below the levels seen back in 2020.

The level of wage costs paid by employers per hour with all costs varies significantly between EU member states, from 7 euros in Bulgaria and 8.5 in Romania, to 41.6 euros in Belgium, 43 in Luxembourg and 46.9 in Denmark.

Compared to Croatia, where the average hour of work costs an employer around 11.2 euros, Bulgaria and Romania have a lower hourly rate, as do Latvia and Hungary, and employers in Lithuania and Poland have slightly higher costs to deal with. In neighbouring Slovenia, with which Croatia often likes to compare itself, the gross hourly wage is almost twice as high (21.1 euros).

Given the current alarm bells ringing from certain sectors, primarily hotels and the hospitality and catering field, the lack of qualified workers even despite the abolition of the annual quota system for the employment of foreign (non-EEA) workers, we can expect that in the Croatian case, hourly rates will have stronger growth in the 2020 report, but if we look back three years, wages have fallen in most sectors, with the exception of education, healthcare, entertainment and the arts.

The lowest hourly rates in Croatia were in administrative services (8.3 euros) and hotels and restaurants (8.6 euros), and the highest in the information and communication sectors (15.9 euros), finance (15.5 euros) and science (15.2 euros).

In the EU's finance and insurance sector last year, hourly rates ranged from 9.9 euros in Bulgaria to 77.3 euros in Luxembourg, and in professional, scientific and technical activities, they ranged from 10.9 euros in Bulgaria to a significantly higher 57.9 euros in Denmark.

In healthcare, hourly wages in the EU rose in all countries except Greece, ranging from 8.1 euros in Bulgaria to 45.2 euros in Luxembourg. And although the sector is the largest, Croatian IT sector wages remain the lowest in the entire EU, with Sweden leading in that regard with an impressive 57.7 euros per hour.

When it comes to tourism, last year, ranges from a mere 3.8 euros in Bulgaria to 40.7 euros in Denmark were the norm. Croatian hourly rates were at the level of Estonia, and Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Malta, and Romania take home less per hour.

Looking at other competitors when it comes to sea and sunshine, only in Greece, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, the price of an hour of work in tourism rose (to 15.2 euros), while in Spain and Italy it decreased slightly last year, and in the Croatian case, last year saw slight recovery, but that recovery failed to reach the record high of pre-pandemic 2019 of 9.1 euros. In neighbouring Slovenia, on the other hand, the hourly wage in the tourism sector stands at 14.6 euros.

In the manufacturing industry, hourly rates last year ranged from 5.8 euros in Bulgaria to 48.5 euros in Denmark, with only Germany, Sweden and Belgium seeing people take home more than 40 euros per hour. Here in Croatia, the price of an hour's work stood at 10.3 euros and is slightly higher than before the pandemic, but it is significantly lower than the sum just across the border in Slovenia (20.3 euros).

They have a lower gross hourly wage than Croatian industrialists in Romania (7.3 euros). In construction, only in Denmark do employees have an hourly salary of more than 40 euros, and the lowest of all can be seen in Bulgaria, Romania and neighbouring Hungary, and Croatian salaries are just over theirs, standing at 10 euros.

In Germany, on the other hand, where Croatian builders like to head to, gross hourly rates are lower than those in the manufacturing industry, which analysts associate with the employment of foreign workers, which increases labour supply and reduces wages. This is not the case, for example, in nearby Austria.

Much like in construction, the Danes are the only ones in trade to have an hourly rate above 40 euros, and the lowest can, once again, be seen in Bulgaria (6.3 euros), which is less than in Croatia (11.1 euros).

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

Monday, 23 May 2022

German Media Takes Swipe at Croatian Labour Market Struggles

May the 23rd, 2022 - Croatian labour market struggles are continuing as we hurtle rapidly towards the height of the summer season, and the German media has had a say in just what this country continues to do wrong year after year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it is estimated that approximately 35,000 waiters, chefs, waiters, receptionists and other profiles within the tourism industry will be missing this summer. But the most striking fact is that the complaints of catering and hospitality employers are somehow always accompanied by some weird (and misplaced) sense of surprise. Everyone is surprised in a certain way, every single year, although we can certainly expect the same situation next year as well.

There's no big riddle to try and solve here. Croats typically head off to the western EU countries en masse during their working lives, because their salaries in Croatia are too low. There's not much of a labour force to speak of in Slavonia, the population of which literally flows down into the Adriatic during the summer months. There is also a huge lack in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia... The pool of personnel in Croatia's immediate neighbourhood has also been somewhat exhausted, so more and more people are reaching for tourism staff from distant Asia, as was the case earlier on in the Croatian construction sector with workers being imported into the country from Nepal, the Philippines, India, etc, writes Deutsche Welle.

The same head-scratching and shock is repeated year after year...

Wages have, on balance, risen slightly, but obviously not by enough, but employers say they have no options at their disposal to raise them even more. They also claim that they aren't in a position to raise anything else because of ongoing inflation, so one can often hear objections from the state to offering any further help. Damir Kresic, the director of the Institute for Tourism in Zagreb, spoke about this to DW:

"The state could definitely do something else, but not without working with employers and with the unions - first to develop a strategy for the whole economy. In doing so, they could answer the question of how many workers Croatia actually needs and from which professions. For years, I've been warning people in vain about this problem in tourism. But our approach is a yearly spontaneous one, and the amazement is the same every time, although the problem hasn't changed. We're really shocked by it each time, for some reason,''

Kresic then went on to explain that the solution lies in the long-term preparation of the education system, after defining sectoral needs. In addition, the Croatian labour market needs to be further regulated, so that workers receive adequate remuneration for their work, instead of a situation in which many prefer to accept income under the table, cash in hand, or simply work "on the black market", because that way they get more to play with.

After all, if it's only three or four months of work a year, there can be no question of stable employment and a strategic solution for anyone's existence. Then it would be logical for workers to go to Ireland for equal pay, but for permanent employment, let alone twice as much money in their pockets.

"Among other things, we faced certain shortcomings in the engagement of the Asian workforce in Croatian tourism. It turns out that they aren't a good solution for our employers in that sector, but now we don't have many choices, at least not for this and next season. At the same time, I have nothing against these people from another continent, so let me be clear. They can be more diligent or honest workers than us, there are no rules, so I'm not talking about that. The problem is the service industry in which the Croatian worker here always offers a better authentic experience,'' says Kresic.

In a similar way, a Croatian receptionist or waitress wouldn't be a more successful worker in the Philippines than a person from there. He went on to explain that tourism simply means contact, local experience, understanding of the context, cultural integration. "That's why we need planned staff production with adequate conditions to keep hold of people on the Croatian labour market, of course, because otherwise we'll be training them in vain,'' he concluded.

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

Friday, 20 May 2022

Lack of Croatian Labour Causing Huge Issues for Tourism Employers

May the 20th, 2022 - The lacking Croatian labour force and the situation of just ''not being able to get the staff'' is having a seriously negative effect on tourism employers across the country. Some are having to close their doors.

We recently wrote about the Croatian tourism sector lacking enormous numbers of workers for the rapidly approaching summer tourist season, and it seems that the situation is being felt up and down the country in areas which would usually be rubbing their hands in excitement for a decent post-pandemic season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Northern Adriatic region of Kvarner has always been among the tourist champions, but now it is among those in the worst situation in terms of a total lack of Croatian labour. Nikola, a local restaurant owner, had to close one of his restaurants in Rijeka because he had no one to employ to work there, which is absolutely disastrous considering the sheer importance of the tourism sector for the Croatian economy and the nation's overall GDP.

"Every now and then someone would leave, they'd receive immoral offers both in terms of working for the summer season, as well as for some other variants of employment. They'd leave Croatia, there would be a huge amount of dissatisfaction among workers and we were simply forced to close our doors, we could not stay open and run properly with only half the number of workers we need,'' said the president of the National Association of Caterers, Nikola Eterovic.

Some are also trying to patch things up in more innovative ways. Although he is the owner, Nikola also works as a waiter himself to try to make things run smoothly in his facility.

Most of the facilities that have operated before, will open this year, but the thing is that they will work with a reduced number of staff and an inadequately educated workforce, which can only result in poorer service and less customer satisfaction.

The Croatian labour market has been depleted owing to demographic trends, and the procedures enforced by MUP are still too complicated and go on for too long when it comes to trying to hire foreign (non EEA) workers from neighbouring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, RTL writes.

"In some places, work permits are waited on for three to four weeks, and in some places we have the situation in which employers are forced to wait for MUP to deal with their request to hire foreigners for four to five months,'' warned the director of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojic.

For more on the Croatian labour force, or the lack of it, check out our dedicated business section.

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