ZAGREB, March 17, 2018 – Workers of Croatian Telekom (HT) staged a rally outside an HT office in downtown Zagreb on Saturday, protesting against wage cuts and lay-offs and seeking a meeting with the management.
Croatian Telecommunications Workers Union leader Juko Cikojević said the workers wanted to negotiate with the management on an equal footing and be treated by HT’s owner Deutsche Telekom the same way Deutche Telekom treated its workers in Germany. He said HT workers also did not want HT to use consultancy services that cost more than 20 million kuna annually but rather use its own resources for that purpose.
Aside from wage cuts, HT has laid off half of its staff over a period of four years and every year at this time of the year it lays off between 150 and 200 employees, said Cikojević. This year, about 50 workers have been sacked, as have a number of managers, for unknown reasons, he said.
Cikojević warned that the laid-off workers were being replaced with students and workers hired through employment agencies for lower salaries, which meant that contributions to the state budget from their wages were lower, too. He warned that big multinational companies were the main reason young people were leaving the country as nobody wanted to do such hard work that was paid that little.
Workers in HT centres have a gross salary of 6,000 kuna (800 euro) and now it has been additionally cut by 15%, while the management claims that that is not the case and that they will be able to compensate for the cut with the variable part of the salary, said Cikojević.
The management have no understanding for the workers but give themselves salary bonuses, he said, warning that the union was ready for talks on an equal footing and that next time it would organise a protest “outside the government headquarters or in Bonn, if need be.”
Since it was taken over by DT in 2000, HT has laid off about 10,000 workers and employed a small number of new ones. Today the company has slightly fewer than 4,000 workers and it has been turning more and more to external contractors, agencies for temporary employment and student work. Seventy percent of its employees have salaries that are below the national average, while the company average is increased by top managers’ salaries.
The protest, during which banners were carried reading “4,000 kuna to workers, 300,000 kuna to managers” and “No to lay-offs”, was organised by the Croatian Telecommunications Workers Union, the RSRH trade union and the NHS trade union. The protest was also supported by the striking workers of the Dalekovod Proizvodnja company.
Commenting on the workers’ protest, the HT management said that 94% of HT employees had signed employment contracts according to a new wage model, which, it said, was a clear sign that they were satisfied with the model that would enable them to have up to 30% higher salaries. The HT management claims that HT workers have very good benefits and salaries that are above the national average, and that under the new model the average gross salary in HT centres would be 8,800 kuna.
HT employees receive holiday allowances, Christmas and Easter bonuses, and gifts for children in December, they have free medical check-ups and may get a company loan of up to 60,000 kuna at an annual interest rate of 3%, the HT management said.