Trade Unions Demand Labour Minister’s Replacement

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 23, 2019 – Three trade union federations on Thursday called for the replacement of Labour Minister Marko Pavić, citing the minister’s campaign against their referendum campaign aimed at restoring the retirement age to 65 and the lack of transparency, and announced that they were leaving the Economic and Social Council (GSV) because the government favoured employers and the unions could not participate in social dialogue on an equal footing to the government and employers.

In a letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the unions accused Pavić of “deluding the people and misusing budget funds in the campaign against the union initiative ’67 is too much’, for which around 700,000 signatures were collected to change retirement terms.”

The leaders of the three trade union federations said they were leaving the GSV because the tripartite social partnership had been replaced by “direct collaboration between the government and employers.”

“The government has an interlocutor in the Croatian Employers Association (HUP) and is using us only as a fig leaf,” NHS trade union federation leader Krešimir Sever told a news conference.

As an example, he cited announcements that quotas for the import of foreign workers would be abolished and the law on aliens amended so that employers could import cheap foreign labour without any restriction and lower the price of labour. All of this is being done without the unions as a social partner, he said.

The head of the MHS trade union federation, Vilim Ribić, said that there would be no tripartite social dialogue if Plenković did not replace Pavić. “If Croatia wants to have social dialogue, Plenković should replace Pavić and examine the work of a number of other ministers as well,” SSSH trade union federation leader Mladen Novosel said in an allusion to Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević, who has been working on a new referendum law without union representatives.

The three union leaders said that there were also “the French and the Greek model” of social dialogue, with protests and strikes, if rules of equal participation in social dialogue were not respected.

They said that such a scenario was possible if the government tried to ignore the will of citizens who have signed their petition that calls for changing retirement terms.

“There can be no negotiations on pension laws, citizens have the right to a referendum, otherwise there will be protests and strikes, and anything is possible… we believe people will know how to win their rights,” said Novosel.

The national coordinator of the “67 is too much” referendum campaign, Mirela Bojić, said that the exact number of signatures collected in the referendum campaign would be known in about ten days, when the unions would submit the signature lists to the parliament with a request to call a referendum to restore the statutory retirement age to 65.

More news about trade unions can be found in the Business section.


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