Foreign Workers in Croatia: Ten Nepalis and Filipinos Working in Sibenik

Lauren Simmonds

Foreign workers in Croatia are helping to patch up the country’s concerning gaps in the labour market which have been caused primarily by the ongoing demographic crisis. 

As Novac/ Vrdoljak writes on the 5th of March, 2020, ten Nepalese and ten Filipinos have started working at the Iskra Shipyard Sibenik. Their arrival solved this company’s problem of the shortage of workers on the Croatian labour market, which was also faced by the former NCP, a company which, after its takeover by Slovenian Iskra, recorded a significant increase in the volume of work done.

The Iskra Shipyard in Sibenik emphasises that they decided to import foreign labour only after they failed to find the necessary workers here on the domestic labor market.

“Before we decided to hire foreign workers at Iskra Sibenik Shipyard, we did everything in our power to find the necessary workforce in the first place in the Sibenik area and then from other parts of Croatia, but we failed. We tried to reach our own people through the CESI, the Moj posao (My job) portal and other ways, but not enough interested people contacted us.

For this reason, we hired a professional agency that brings us workers from Nepal and from the Philippines. We’ve got a lot of work, we’re a company that wants to grow and can grow, but in order to be able to complete all the contracted jobs and get new ones, we must have the necessary manpower. In addition to welders, we’re looking for electricians, mechanics, locksmiths, engineers and marine motorists. In the current circumstances, in order not to jeopardise contracted jobs, the only thing we could do was turn to the import of labour from distant markets,” explained Roko Vuletic, director of Iskra Shipyard Sibenik.

One of the directors of the aforementioned shipyard, Ales Ekar, said that these foreign workers in Croatia were very welcome.

“They have experience in welding aluminum, and we’re concentrating on building aluminum ships, in which we’re very competitive globally, so the added value we are achieving is now greater,” Ekar added.

The Filipinos and Nepalis are well-suited to the new work environment and, as they claim from Iskra Shipyard, have gained the affection of other Iskra Shipyard employees.

Vinko Mrdeža, Production Manager at Iskra Shipyard, says these new workers are kind, hardworking and courteous. “I’m pleased because I expected that their entry into the business would be much more difficult. It is commendable that some of our employees read some things about Nepal and the Philippines before they arrived here, and so they were prepared to welcome them as much as possible. Once they have completed the training and completed the necessary tests, they’ll be involved in production,” says Vinko Mrdeza.

For most Nepalis and Filipinos who came to work in Sibenik, this is not the first time they’ve worked abroad. They were engaged on construction sites in Japan and in countries in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Everything is very good and better here than we expected. The food is excellent. All of this is new to us and different from our food, but it’s very tasty. Before Sibenik, we Nepalis worked to build plants in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We haven’t gotten acquainted with Sibenik yet. For now, the most important thing for us is the work, and then everything else will come to our attention. We feel good here because everyone is kind and friendly to us,” said Neil Sunil Gharti.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on foreign workers in Croatia.


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