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.

Friday, 13 May 2022

20% Less People Registered with Croatian Employment Service in April

May the 13th, 2022 - The number of individuals registered as unemployed at the Croatian Employment Service dropped by an encouraging 20 percent back in April, which, while hope giving, occurs annually due to Croatia's seasonality when it comes to labour.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, back the end of April this year, 118,922 unemployed persons were registered officially in the records of the Croatian Employment Service (CES), which is a decrease of 5.3 percent on a monthly basis and 20 percent on an annual basis, according to the Croatian Emplotment Service's data.

April is the third month in a row in which the number of unemployed people across the Republic of Croatia continued to fall on a monthly basis, and when compared to March, there are 6,682 fewer of them registered with the aforementioned institution.

The Croatian Employment Service's data shows that, under the influence of the typical seasonal trends which take place annually on the Croatian labour market with regard to the needs of the tourism sector and preparations for the height of the summer tourist season, this marked decline in the number of unemployed people will more than likely continue throughout the month of May.

Namely, 114,163 unemployed persons are currently registered at the Croatian Employment Service, which is 4,759 people less than were registered there back at the end of April. Currently, 23,024 vacancies have been announced at the Croatian Employment Service, and their statistics show that the number of registered unemployed people decreased by 29,822 per year.

During April this year, a total of 11,421 people were newly registered in the unemployment register, which represents 3.1 percent more than were registered back in April last year.

At the same time, 69.7 percent of newly registered individuals (equal to 7,960 people) came to the Institute directly from their previous employment. In April, most people came directly from the manufacturing industry - 1,205 people (15.1 percent).

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

Monday, 9 May 2022

What Will Average Croatian Wage and Pension be in Eurozone?

May the 9th, 2022 - With Eurozone entry rapidly approaching and due at the very beginning of next year, just what will the average Croatian wage and pension be? It seems an increase is on the cards.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, when Croatia introduces the euro at the beginning of 2023, the average Croatian wage (net salary) will stand at around 900 euros, and an average pension will stand at around 320 euros, considering the fact that due to ongoing inflation, personal incomes and pensions across Croatia could increase slightly before the changeover from the kuna to the euro anyway.

If we take in some information and consider it relevant data on the average net salary across the EU back in 2021, which amounted to 1916 euros per month, it means that the average Croatian salary needs to be about a thousand euros to reach the EU average. In nearby Austria, the average net salary last year was 2053 euros, and in Belgium - an impressive 2091 euros.

In Bulgaria, the average net income last year was 413 euros, and the average Croatian wage was 797 euros, while the neighbouring Slovenians received an average of 1,038 euros per month back in 2021, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

The Czechs were doing slightly better than the Croats were with a typical net salary of 813 euros, and the Danes were much better, with 3,100 euros, placing them at the very top of the European Union (EU). They are closely followed by the Swedes with a salary of 3062 euros.

The Estonians are also better paid than Croats typically are, with an average salary of 958 euros net, with the Latvians and Lithuanians being weaker with 648 euros and 645 euros respectively. The people of Cyprus receive an excellent 1,658 euros, and Malta also earns well from the Croatian perspective, with an average Maltese wage being about 2261 euros per month.

They are followed by rich EU countries: Finland with 2509 euros, France with 2157 euros and Germany with 2270 euros as an average salary.

The average Greek earns 917 euros, a Portuguese worker 846, a Pole 736, a Slovak 690, and a Hungarian 683 euros. Over in Romania, the average net salary is only 522 euros, meaning that only the Bulgarians are the poorest in the EU.

The average net salary in Italy is 1,762 euros, and in neighbouring Spain 1,718 euros. The real "heavyweights" are the Icelanders with 3435 euros and the Luxembourgers with 3009 euros, followed by the Irish with 2479 euros and the Dutch with 2263 euros.

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

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Could Revising Student Earnings Limit Solve Croatian Labour Issue?

May the 7th, 2022 - The continuing issues faced by the Croatian labour force (or lack of it, to be more precise) could be solved by altering a current law and increasing the limit on how much students are allowed to earn without them, or usually their parents, facing tax issues.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, irritated employers have rightly pointed out that the income threshold after which the right to tax relief is lost for students is much too low, and that raising it would encourage students to not only seek out employment, but to be willing to work more. Therefore, they've suggested that the threshold be raised to 30,000 kuna, with different treatment if the taxpayer (their parent) has more children. This could solve the problems faced by the Croatian labour market, particularly when it comes to seasonal and tourism employment.

According to tportal, this initiative from the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) is also being strongly supported by the president of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojic, who very formly believes that the greater engagement of students in seasonal jobs in the tourism sector would reduce the need for the import of foreign labour, and the administrative issues and ridiculous waiting times for work permits that come with that.

''We've proposed to the Government that the non-taxable income limit for dependent members be raised to 30,000 kuna. We believe that in this way, a significant number of people would be activated on the Croatian labour market,'' Ostojic said.

Student work is otherwise regulated by the Student Affairs Act, and the current law on that has been in force since November 2018.

Students are employed through authorised intermediaries, which can be student centres or higher education institutions that have a centre for student standards, provided that they have received approval from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to conduct mediation activities. The law also regulates the minimum hourly wage, which is calculated by dividing the amount of the minimum gross salary by 160. The hourly wage is adjusted once a year, and for 2022 it amounts to 29.30 kuna.

Altering this and increasing the amount students are free to earn without facing issues from the tax man would not only put a gradual stop to importing non-resident staff, but put the Croatian labour market in a far better position when it comes to the height of the summer season, when good staff are increasingly difficult to come by for would-be employers.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

MP Katarina Peovic Says Minimum Croatian Wage Should be 10,000 Kuna

May the 5th, 2022 - MP Katarina Peovic believes that in order to comfortable cover all costs of living, from rent to loan repayments to food, utility bills and everything else that might come up from month to month, the minimum Croatian wage should be 10,000 kuna per month.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Workers' Front MP Katarina Peovic was a guest in the Newsroom on N1 television recently, where she commented on the changes made to the Labour Law.

"It started all being talked about because at the beginning of the pandemic, the Government wanted to suspend a good part of the Labour Law. Various unions from across Europe reacted to that, so Plenkovic instead decided to do it step by step and Minister Aladrovic was given the task of coming up with a new Labour Law which would include suspensions under the justification of regulating work from home,'' said MP Katarina Peovic, adding:

"This has been being done in secret and in non-transparent conditions for a year and a half now. What comes out of it isn't good - to have more flexibility in terms of working hours, the workplace, but to the detriment of the employees themselves. It's criminal that we received the draft law without the Government ever having made it public. I'll state without hesitation what we've seen. If an employee is unable to meet something introduced in the draft (such as having to deal with unpredictable working hours), then they will be allowed to switch to part-time work, especially if they're in a situation like needing to care for a child, an elderly person or someone who isn't well,'' Peovic said.

"We suggest shortening the working week down from 40 to 35 working hours"

Asked what the most important emphases we can take from this are, and what the changes that will bring better conditions for workers about are, MP Katarina Peovic said: "First, the most important thing is to arrange the institute of temporary work. We were the first in all of Europe in terms of having rather precarious and non-standard employment contracts, now we're in second place. This is a plague in this country, about 21% of people are working on fixed-term contracts. We've proposed that the three-year limit be reduced to one year. Secondly, we propose shortening the working week from 40 down to 35 working hours. Croats work more than the European average, around 10 hours more than the Dutch do per week.

"The definition of a basic salary is important. Workers working for minimum wage work overtime and even on Sundays in order to reach the minimum wage, which is completely unacceptable," she added.

"Our average salary is at the level of the Slovenian minimum"

She pointed out that she often agrees with the ruling party when it comes to detecting the problem, but not when it comes to proposing a proper and working solution: "If there is one topic that should connect the left-leaning parties, then it's the topic of work. We've been following Croatia's race to the absolute bottom for decades. We have over 800,000 able-bodied people who are unemployed. We're a country that has no solution for almost a million able-bodied people. Such a country cannot prosper. We cannot reduce ourselves to tourism alone. Our average salary is at the Slovenian minimum level, and our cost of living is no higher than that of Slovenia.''

MP Katarina Peovic also revealed what the Croatian minimum wage according to the research should be:

"The new union conducted an in-depth research and stated that the minimum wage that could cover all living expenses should be over 10 thousand kuna."

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Fancy Becoming a Croatian Lighthouse Keeper? Now You Can!

April the 12th, 2022 - Ever fancied getting away for a bit to somewhere isolated and idyllic and just collecting your thoughts? Becoming a Croatian lighthouse keeper may offer you all of that, and the ability to not go totally insane by being able to spend some time at home, too.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the company “Plovput” from Split has announced a competition for the position of a Croatian lighthouse keeper at the position of Sveti Ivan na Pučini, close to Rovinj in Istria. Although many would like to find themselves in this role today, one should know that this is actuallt really specific and distinctive profession, and that there are only about thirty people qualified for this job left on the Adriatic today.

The salary paid to a Croatian lighthouse keeper is between 6 and 7 thousand kuna per month, according to Morski.hr. It's also quite convenient that the successful applican't won't have to spend months at a time looking after the lighthouse, but will instead be there at their workplace for 15 days, and they can then be at home for another 15 days.

However, the lighthouse keeper will have to take care of all their necessities and will have to prepare well for their stay on a lonely cliff out on the Croatian Adriatic, counting on the fact that they might have to stay a few days longer due to the nature of the job. Not to mention the unpredictable elements.

In the description of the Croatian lighthouse keeper's workplace, Plovput, among other things, states the control of the nautical characteristics of the lighthouse, the main light and the backlight, the fog siren and control of all maritime signalling objects in sight, as well as the manual activation of the fog siren in case of automatic failure in visibility less than 1000 metres.

On top of that, they'll have to be in charge of the maintenance of all of the devices and equipment for navigation safety, they'll need to participate in search and rescue operations at sea, record for the Radio Journal of meteorological data of the State Hydrometeorological Institute for the purpose of correct invoicing, and prepare and submit meteorological reports to both DHMZ and Plovput.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Croatian Wages Paid Per Hour Fall Very Short of European Union Average

April the 1st, 2022 - Croatian wages paid per hour rather unsurprisingly fall short of the European Union (EU) average, even with state benefits included in the final sum.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the price of an hour of work, which includes state benefits, stood at a mere 11.2 euros back in 2021, according to a report which looked into the matter by Lider.

The survey, conducted at the level of the European Union, showed just how below Croatian wages paid by hour are when compared to the general European Union average, given that the average cost of labour in the EU stood at 29.1 euros, and 32.8 euros in the Eurozone.

It isn't remotely encouraging that the Republic of Croatia has found itself in an extremely unimpressive fifth place on the list. As in fifth from the end, not from the beginning. In the EU, Latvia has lower labour costs than Croatia does, with costs of 11.1 euros, in neighbouring Hungary, the same costs stand at 10.4 euros, in Romania, the somewhat infamous 8.5 euros remains so, and last on the list comes Bulgaria, where the cost of an hour of work it costs a mere seven euros.

At the same time, Western countries, with which Croatia often likes to (rather unrealistically) compare itself to, are somewhat different.

The highest labour costs can be found in Denmark, where an hour of work costs a far, far higher 46.9 euros. Right behind it are Luxembourg, with 43 euros, Belgium, with 41.6 euros, and then France, the Netherlands and Sweden, with just under 40 euros per hour.

Austria, Germany and Ireland, countries where Croats often head to with hopes of a more stable economic situation and better prospects, are among the best in the European Union when we look at how much employers have to spend in order to have workers.

In Austria, the price of an hour of work stands at 37.5 euros, in Germany it is negligibly lower - 37.2 euros - and Ireland follows them closely with 33.5 euros per hour of labour.

For more on Croatian wages, the domestic economy and working in Croatia, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ridiculous Croatian Red Tape Still Obstacle to Employment of Foreigners

March the 26th, 2022 - Ridiculous Croatian red tape, for which this country has become infamous, is continuing to be a thorn in the side of would-be employers seeking to hire foreign workers to fill in the gaps in the labour market. With the situation in Ukraine causing many Ukrainians to flock to Croatia, the situation has become even more pressing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, out of about three and a half million Ukrainians who fled to the EU due to the war in their country, more than 8,600 have arrived in Croatia so far. That number will certainly increase. How long and for what period they'll choose to remain in Croatia is difficult to estimate. So far, about four hundred people have expressed a desire to get a job and settle in Croatia.

"About 40 percent of them have a college or university degree. We'll try to enable the recognition of their diplomas, as well as enable them to learn the Croatian language at the expense of the Croatian Employment Service,'' said Minister Josip Aladrovic after a recent meeting of the Economic and Social Council.

The issuance of temporary residence permits by the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) to Ukrainian citizens should be accelerated, and the CES has already formed mobile teams who, together with social welfare centres, are touring the places Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homeland are coming to.

Among other things, Minister Aladrovic said that about a hundred companies have already expressed their readiness to employ Ukrainian nationals. He doesn't expect disturbances and abuses in the labour market, and there is currently high demand, especially in regard to seasonal work as the summer tourist season approaches.

However, both the Minister and the unions expect greater involvement of the State Inspectorate in the control of possible abuses of labour relations in order to ensure equal rights and obligations as for all others in the labour market.

On behalf of HUP, Ivan Misetic emphasised that there are a significant number of medically educated women and that he hopes that there will not be too much bureaucratisation and Croatian red tape to trip them up on their roads to stable employment.

The issue of administrative procedures in this emergency situation is clearly being emphasised by employers based on their shared experiences, as Croatian red tape, long waits and rudeness from clerks are commonplace when hiring foreign labour from outside the EEA.

"Eight to ten weeks is too long to process applications for work permits, and it isn't uncommon for foreign workers to just go and find work elsewhere during that waiting time," explained Petar Lovric, the owner and director of the Kadus employment agency. When it comes to previous experiences with Ukrainian workers, they are recognised in Croatia as a desirable workforce, he added.

"However, after a solid 2019 in terms of that pool of labour and 2020, which was marked by the global coronavirus pandemic, last year we lost the game with the Poles in connection with the Ukrainian workers," claims Lovric.

Partner agencies from Ukraine cited complicated procedures as one of the main reasons for this “loss of competitiveness” (including, for example, obtaining so-called apostilles by which resident countries confirm the authenticity of the required documentation). In addition, Croatia (primarily the Adriatic) is perceived as expensive to live in given wage levels in some of the most sought-after occupations.

Since the beginning of last year, Croatia has been implementing a new legal framework for the employment of foreigners (non-EEA nationals and British nationals who aren't covered by the Withdrawal Agreement), which was introduced with the aim of facilitating it, as certain activities in recent years have had to rely more heavily on the import of workers from the likes of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, neither of which are EEA countries.

The former annual quota for the employment of foreigners in 2021 has been replaced by a system involving labour market tests, which are ''needs assessments'' with regard to deficit occupations, for which the CES is in charge. For some occupations, you don't need to take a test, but immediately go to the process of issuing a work permit, but for some you still need to.

The number of work permits issued to foreigners last year recorded a double-digit percentage increase (by the end of November, 75 thousand permits or 12 percent more than the year before had been issued) and for the state administration this is a confirmation of the improvement of the system in general. That being said, if you ask Croatian employers and employment agencies, there is still too much administration to deal with and it takes too long to finally get a valid work permit for a foreign employee.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Croatian employers often don't systematically deal with the planning and projection of their needs for workers, including foreign ones. Recruitment and selection processes generally take time, but in recent times this lack of planning can be partly explained by the unpredictability and uncertainties of the business environment.

Lovric said that better managed companies in the tourism sector today are systematically engaged in recruiting and selecting labour, but that most employers in neighbouring Slovenia who are focused on looking for labour and imports still pay insufficient attention to global trends that include less "multifunctional" workers.

He also believes that in a few years, the north of Croatia could face a serious problem of industrial unskilled workers if they don't turn more strongly to attracting ideas such as the construction of workers' settlements. Because of all this, he added, Kadus also plans to offer cooperation to local communities in terms of workforce planning for, for example, the next five to ten years.

For more, check out our business section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Croatian Tourism Companies Learning From Mistakes as Easter Approaches

March the 21st, 2022 - Have Croatian tourism companies finally begun to engage in a little self-reflection and started learning from their past mistakes following the last two unprecedented years dominated by a global pandemic and now a war in Europe? It seems so, and just in time for Easter.

As Novac/Jutarnji/Barbara Ban writes, the currently great uncertainty all over Europe over the war raging in Ukraine has slowed bookings down, but that doesn’t mean the summer season this year will be bad. Moreover, the latest global analyses presented this week at the Berlin Tourism Fair ITB show that the demand for holidays and travel is higher than last year and of course higher than it was back during 2020, and that tourist traffic across Europe this year will be at 90 percent of what was recorded back in pre-pandemic 2019.

The Germans, the British, the Americans and the Dutch will more than likely travel the most. Croatian tourism companies and some of the largest hoteliers in the country are sticking to this idea, noting that due to the situation currently playing out in Eastern Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, booking has been slowed down, but there have been no cancellations. They have already started hiring staff earlier so that they don't have the same dire situation with the workforce as they did last year, and now there are struggles for every worker. They raised salaries by 15 percent, and for some deficient occupations, by up to 50 percent.

No cancellations

Marina Cvitic from the Trade Union of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia, says that they are preparing for the upcoming tourist season as if it would be a normal one, especially in the more northern part of the Adriatic, since it is a destination many people drive to.

''Regarding the war in Ukraine, for now, no one is too worried when it comes to booking. It's true when they say that booking has slowed down for now, however, there are no cancellations and that's good. It's obvious that last minute bookings will be even more pronounced this year. That's why employment started going very well in March because everyone is preparing for Easter, which is just around the corner now.

Employers in Croatian tourism companies don't want the same situation that happened last year to happen again, when chaos ensued due to high levels of caution when hiring in the peak season. Just by looking at the media and the Croatian tourism companies in the network, it's clear that there are issues being experienced by companies in the labour market. Every fifteen days or so, companies advertise and repeat the conditions under which workers will be employed. From this it can be concluded that they haven't yet secured a sufficient number of employees for the peak tourist season. Although the agreed wage increases for this year are more significant than in the years before the pandemic when the maximum increase was 2 - 4 percent, and during the pandemic wages stagnated, due to the impact of inflation reaching a record 6.3 percent, wages will not significantly affect the standard of the workers. Despite the fact that in most companies, the price of labour has been agreed upon and despite the fact that costs are rising for companies too, I'm afraid that employers will have to tighten their belts further during the season if they want to work it all and settle for less profit than what they're used to,'' Cvitic pointed out.

Old mistakes

She added employers in Croatian tourism companies and the overall hospitality industry could pay a high price for repeating tired old mistakes. She explained that, except for the last two pandemic-dominated years, all Croatian tourism companies have achieved very good results, had a profits reaching the millions and that the owners "pulled out" that money through dividends and that investments were made in raising the quality of facilities and new acquisitions.

''There was money for everything, but not for the workers. Not to mention that there was no higher employment for an indefinite period of time at all. On the contrary, the number of full-time employees only decreased as older workers retired by natural outflow. Not to mention that incentive severance pay has stimulated older but still able-bodied workers to leave companies. In such conditions, our experienced tourism workers, and even full-time workers, who are highly valued, left Croatia and unfortunately, although we warned of it, nobody was worried about that,'' Cvitic added.

She explained that now the situation is completely different and that after two years of the pandemic, Croatian tourism companies have drastically lower profits, the results are much weaker than they were before the pandemic, and salary increases and other material rights being offered to employees as a lure are much higher.

''So, now that there isn't much money, much more is being allocated for workers than was allocated when there was room to do so. On the other hand, employees are now aware of their roles and often set conditions they never thought of before, such as their desire for two days off a week, one-shift work, and, of course, unions now see the opportunity and are trying to direct wage policy, as well,'' Cvitic stated.

Salary increases

She noted that this year's salary increase is up to 15 percent, and for some deficient occupations, that increase rises up to as much as 50 percent, and that the maximum non-taxable amounts are planned for the amount of 5,000 kuna. There is also free food, a tax-free Christmas bonus of 3,000 kuna and a gift of 600 kuna.

If employers had treated their workers like that ten years ago, if they'd hired workers for an indefinite period of time as they do now, if they'd hired permanent seasonal workers as they do now, if they'd rewarded seasonal workers even after the season was over as they are doing now, we wouldn't be experiencing any of the issues we now are. With all the increases in wages and income, they would have a Croatian workforce that is of better quality, but also cheaper, and there would be no need to try to import foreign workers,'' Cvitic believes.

She believes that the situation we experienced during the last summer season will not be repeated, when due to the lack of workers, some Croatian tourism companies, hotels and restaurants didn't even bother to open their doors.

For more, check out our business section.

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