Croatia’s Seasonal Employers: From Mystery Wages To Phantom Apartments

Total Croatia News

June 14, 2018 — One man’s attempt to explain the lack of seasonal workers reveals an uncomfortable truth.

Finding a job is never easy, especially if you’re desperately needed in Croatia.

Jutarnji List reporter Vid Barić discovered the cutthroat — and hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-sad — nature of finding a seasonal job along Croatia’s coast.

The headlines can often be jarring: shops closing; restaurant owners working solo; positions offering up to 40.000 kunas in compensation left unfilled.

Could things really be this dire? Who’s to blame?

The journalist responded to several job listings seeking waiters, cleaners, a cook at a fast food joint, etc. He foisted upon himself a fake CV, one belonging to a longtime hand in the service industry. Speaks three languages; worked several summers doing everything from waiting tables to serving ice cream. His goal: any job, as long as it pays a little over Croatia’s average monthly salary of 6.253 kuna.

Naturally, he’d want to know the details: hours, shifts, who he’ll be sharing housing with.

The responses to basic questions asked of any employer — hours, pay, housing — range from infuriating to hilarious.

Taken as a whole, the reporter’s travails create a bizarre tapestry of a perverse sort of economics. A land were demand and supply cannot meet — chiefly because employers refuse to concede they no longer have the upper hand.

While the journalist encountered many baffling responses during his ten attempts, here are the best, worst and funniest.

Best: The Only On-The-Books Offer

A call to a restaurant in Cres for a cook’s assistant led to a strange realization: none of the potential employers suggested they would actual officially hire the reporter “on the books.” Except for one lone restaurant owner in Cres.

The offer was simple: work from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.; includes two meals; an apartment with five others… and the employee must be officially hired — a first. For about 6.000 kuna.

The call ranked among the reporter’s best, simply because it didn’t involve curt retorts, outright dismissals or a perverse need to hire only women…

Worst: You Can’t See Where You’ll Be Living

The reporter contacted a fast food kiosk in Biograd — the textbook summer gig. The listing offered housing, food (as did all listings) and a concrete eight-hour shift.

The reporter asked the potential employer to describe the housing. Many a seasonal worker has told horror stories of dungeon-like apartments, with cracking walls and no air conditioning to beat the sweltering summer heat. After a bit of hesitation, the reporter asked if he could see a photo of the apartment.

“You want a photo of the accommodations?” the owner said. “Are you serious???”

Funniest: The Mystery Job

The journalist responded to one restaurant in Pag seeking a waiter. The usual questions about hours and compensation were met with confusion.

“What do you mean a ‘shift?’ You work from now to now, depending on the day,” the employer responded. “Sometimes there’s a lot of work, sometimes none.”

The reporter went on, asking about hourly wages and if there is overtime for shifts lasting more than 10 hours.

“What kind of questions are these, man?” the voice on the other side shot back. “What wages? There’s work, you want to come here or not?”

Well, we labeled this the funniest. But perhaps “tragic” would have been a better word.

Perhaps the employee shortage is becoming a little easier to understand.


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