Unionist Mladen Novosel: No Reason for Croatian Shops to Work on Sundays

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of April, 2020, trade union leaders said after the session of the Economic and Social Council (GSV) that all three trade union headquarters are united in the collective belief that there is no reason for Croatian shops to operate on Sundays, while the minister in charge said the decision could still be reversed.

Social partners spoke at a GSV session on Monday in which they discussed the government measures that define economic and business activity until May the 11th, 2020, and presented a national reform programme that the government should adopt on Thursday, Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic told reporters.

When asked about the matter, he replied that the topic of amendments to the Labour Act (ZOR) hadn’t been raised.

“Given the fact that we didn’t discuss that today, we would be rushing with conclusions that go either way,” said Minister Aladrovic.

One of the topics of the meeting, however, was the ban on the operation of Croatoan shops, noted Union of Independent Trade Unions (SSSH) leader Mladen Novosel, noting that he believes there is no reason for Croatian shops to operate on Sundays at this moment in time.

“We’re aware that many employees and businesses in Croatia have to work on Sundays, but those in the trade sector certainly don’t need to,” concluded Novosel.

He expects that it will be shown that citizens can do all they need to do shopping-wise on the remaining six days of the week and that they can provide a free day to over 90,000 employees of Croatian shops on Sundays.

The ban on the work of Croatian shops on Sundays, he added, had been a topic of talks at the level of the Ministry of Economy, with social dialogue having been going on for months before the coronavirus crisis struck the country, with some HUP (Croatian Employers’ Association) employers backing work restrictions on Sundays and some being explicitly opposed to the notion.

Minister Aladrovic said that the Croatian Government’s conclusion regulating working hours for Croatian shops differently was made in accordance with the recommendations of epidemiologists and in agreement with the National Civil Protection Headquarters and the Croatian Employment Service (CES).

“Closing Croatian shops on Sundays is an epidemiological measure to continue to allow for the situation [with coronavirus] to move in a positive direction and open up more opportunities for business activities,” he said. He noted that all anti-epidemic measures currently in place are temporary and subject to change.

When asked if this measure makes sense given the crowds expected on Saturday, he said we need to listen to the [epidemiological] profession because the professionals estimate that with one day off a week, we will be able to control the situation better and have more of a chance of fighting the virus in the long run.

He said queues in front of stores have been a phenomenon that has been going on for a while, but they are keeping track of all of the fiscalised receipts, so depending on consumer changes, they will respond accordingly.

Aladrovic reported that the GSV mostly discussed the technical implementation of loosening the current anti-epidemic measures, who should participate in them and how. He noted a high degree of understanding among all three parties.

Mladen Novosel told reporters that the GSV session was initiated by the unions because they hadn’t been able to discuss the two sets of measures to help the economy before they were swiftly adopted, while the third set of measures happened overnight, though not with intent, but in accordance with the epidemiological situation at the time.

He welcomed an approach in which the health of citizens and workers is simultaneously maintained and the enfeebled Croatian economy gradually re-started.

He stressed that a large part of the domestic economy didn’t experience an interruption of operations during the coronavirus crisis, except for the tourism sector and part of the trade and transport sector, so there is no reason to reduce any salaries or the rights of workers. He said that the Croatian Government’s measures certainly helped the economy, so there was no reason to relax anything in the area of ​​labour legislation.

He estimated that the existing ZOR was not an obstacle to work from home or other work-related activities, and that much more union and employer discussions will be required before making further decisions.

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