ZAGREB, March 27, 2020 – The European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC) on Friday condemned a possible legislative initiative that would suspend labour and social rights during the coronavirus pandemic and called on Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Labour Minister Josip Aladrović to scrap such proposals.
ETUC reminds the Croatian government of recent warnings by high representatives and bodies of the International Labour Organisation and the Council of Europe that the crisis caused by COVID-19 “should not be used, even temporarily, to dismantle human rights and social rights, in particular trade union and workers’ rights,” several Croatian union federations, ETUC members, said in a press release.
“On the contrary, this COVID-19 crisis is a brutal reminder of the importance of ensuring lasting progress with respect to social rights enjoyment and it is in these times that workers and citizens throughout Europe need more social rights and support, not less,” ETUC claims.
Human rights can only be derogated from under very strict and limited conditions but for ETUC “it is clear, that by pursuing this initiative, Croatia will be in violation with several of its obligations it has committed to, amongst others, under ILO Conventions, the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter.”
The ETUC is also appalled by the fact that the Croatian government is putting forward such initiatives when holding the Presidency of the EU” because that is “in stark contrast” to the measures being taken by the EU and many EU countries.
ETUC also sent this letter the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, Secretary-general of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović and the president of the European Committee for Social Rights, Giuseppe Palmisano.
Croatia’s SSSH and NHS union federations unofficially heard of the government’s intention to suspend the incumbent Labour Act and on Wednesday called on the government to refrain from cutting labour and social rights.
The Ministry of Labour and Pension System has confirmed that something is being prepared, however it has denied that this relates to suspending the Labour Act. The ministry did not wish to release any details until it has met with its social partners.
More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.