As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ongoing problem of staff shortages escalated for Croatian employers last summer, and this year it has become even more pronounced because there are more guests, this tourist season could be better than that of 2019, and the desire to travel is great, leading some to describe it as being as if the dam has given way.
There is as much labour here on the domestic labour market as there is, and it isn’t enough. As such, Croatian employers are continuing to turn to foreign workers from outside the EEA/EU who need work permits, Novi list reports.
Croatian employers say that even the pool often used in neighbouring non-EEA/EU countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia has been emptied, meaning that more and more workers are being brought in from distant countries like India, Nepal, the Philippines… To work in Croatia legally, non-EU foreigners, of course, need work permits. And there was a big problem with this at MUP last year as well.
People came from abroad and stayed in workers’ accommodation units for weeks, until they got their work permits and began work. The tourism sector asked last year for MUP to speed up the process of issuing work permits, however, in principle the only thing that has changed is that applications can now be submitted online instead of being taken to administrative police stations in person. Despite very small changes, just like in previous years, overworked MUP employees continue to deal with all of these requests manually, one by one.
Robert Palic, an employer in tourism from Crikvenica, who has five catering and hospitality facilities in the very centre, explained what it looks like in practice. He applied for about fifty work permits back in early May and hasn’t even received even half to date. However, he says, in the meantime, ten work permits have practically been made pointless because people gave up in the meantime and went and found another job elsewhere.
“There were seven Nepalese nationals among them. I paid the agency through which I can employ these people 10,500 kuna to bring those seven people to Croatia, and then another 4,000 kuna for their work permits. With the proviso that they had to come to New Delhi to the embassy with a work permit to get a visa. When I was told that work permits would be ready, those people headed to New Delhi which is, let’s not forget, 550 kilometres away from their homes. They waited there for three days for their work permits to arrive to pick up their visas. However, as those work permits didn’t arrive. So of course those people gave up on it,” Palic explained.
He added that at the administrative police station in Crikvenica he asked if he could return those work permits or get the costs taken away for the paid for the work permits he’d paid for for other workers, because he obviously doesn’t need these for Nepalese nationals anymore, but they said that no, he can’t.
“I’m losing workers, I’m losing money, and on top of that I have to find a dozen new workers overnight. Until a few days ago, I had all my facilities closed because I can’t complete my team, and it’s already the middle of June,” added Palic.
“I understand those two women who have to process all these requests and who are overwhelmed with work, but then things need to be arranged differently, more people need to be hired by MUP, as needed, or the whole story needs to be digitised. After all, the coronavirus pandemic taught us how to deal with everything online. Let them put themselves in my position, the tourist season is here, and there are no people, I can’t do all this and only have three workers. My employees who are already working, can’t do the whole season on their own, it’s unbearable, so I urgently need to find more workers. I need to find them tomorrow, not in a month’s time,” pointed out Palic.
The search for workers did indeed set off on time in Palic’s case, but the paperwork issues and MUP’s outdated way of handling administrative procedures clearly clouded the plans.
Quotas for foreign workers were abolished, but things are no easier…
When asked by the press about the situation with work permits this year, the Police Administration of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County told us that by Wednesday, June the 5th, the Crikvenica Police Station had received a total of 1,258 applications for residence and work permits for non-EU citizens.
“This number refers not only to seasonal work up to 90 days, but also to the extension of existing permits to one year and the request of the CES application, which includes seasonal work up to six months and so-called ”new employment” for a period of one year. As for the number of requests received compared to the same period last year, it has more than doubled,” they said from MUP.
“Every year, there’s a growing problem when it comes to finding quality workers in Serbia, because instead of coming to Croatia, more and more of them are going off to work in Western European countries. So there’s a shortage of people in this pool of ours as well. And that’s why we will all have to look more and more for workers from more distant countries. As for the Nepalese, the idea was to have a dozen of them this year and then have them return home satisfied because then they’ll say how much it pays to come here to work, so I’ll be able to count on, let’s say, 20 employees from this country. And that gives me some sense of security in a situation when this pool of ours is almost empty,” said Palic, just one of many Croatian employers facing this huge problem which keeps on escalating each and every year.
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