The march was held under the motto “For a Croatia of happy workers,” with the participants asking for “normal working hours,” “higher pay” and “open-ended contracts.”
The unions’ central demands and messages were higher pay and more collective agreements, notably branch collective agreements in the private sector, which employs nearly one million people, and more effective oversight of their application.
Living standards and the real value of wages are jeopardised by price hikes and inflation, they said, adding that pay rises are the only solution.
They said pay rises could only be achieved by increasing the number of collective agreements in the private sector, adding that only two are in force in Croatia and that only one was expanded to all employers.
The responsibility for that is primarily on employers and their associations, most of which refuse collective bargaining, the unions said.
SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said employers and the government should realise that the low cost of labour was history.
“Today’s protest is the first warning to employers that there will be more strikes and industrial actions than ever if they refuse to bargain at the sector level”, he added.
Novosel said the government was not doing enough via the Labour Act and other regulations to encourage sector bargaining, and even less to ensure proper oversight of the application of the sector agreements that exist.
He said that some Croatian workers still do not have an eight-hour workday for which workers spilt blood on the streets of Chicago in 1886.
Novosel said some workers who should not be, were working today, on a holiday, and that only Croatian workers were leaving for other EU countries while those from them were not coming to work in Croatia.
As a result, he added, there is a shortage of thousands of workers in tourism and construction “because we are at the bottom in terms of the cost of labour and the treatment of workers.”
Nosovel reiterated the demand that by 2026 the average pay in Croatia should be at least €1,500 and the minimum wage €750 net.
He also criticised the unions in the Zagreb Holding conglomerate for currying favour with the employer, which he said was sacking workers instead of protecting them.
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