ZAGREB, November 20, 2018 – Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Tuesday that one more round of talks with public sector trade unions on pay rise could be expected by the end of this week, and he did not rule out the possibility of a pay rise “in installments”.
“We are going to meet one more time this week. We have to date negotiated the issue in a sincere, open and clear manner,” Marić said on the margins of a conference on Croatia’s economic policies, organised by the association of Croatian exporters.
He reiterated that in 2017, the wage base increased by 6 percent, and Christmas and holiday bonuses were also paid.
I heard from opposition MPs that wages should be raised I don’t know how much, and those suggestions go from those who did not ensure the payment of either Christmas or holiday bonuses while they were in power and those who had lowered the wage base by three percent and ceased paying other bonuses. We must be fairer. We have about 900 million kuna available for 2019, and funds for Christmas and holiday bonuses are envisaged, we have set aside money to cover costs of pupils’ transport,” Marić said.
Asked about the possibility of a gradual increase in the monthly pay, Marić said that this possibility would be on the agenda of the negotiations. “We created this space for a 3% increase much before the outbreak of the Uljanik crisis. It is not true that we cannot do something due to Uljanik,” the minister said, adding that the government would like to negotiate the wage policy for the medium term.
Speaking earlier in the day, Labour and Pension System Minister Marko Pavić said that a strike which public sector workers said would launch on November 28, demanding a wage increase of 5.8%, was “a legitimate option,” adding however that the government’s proposal regarding a 3% wage increase was the maximum the state budget could take at this moment.
Responding to questions from the press, Pavić said the salaries in state and public services had already gone up six percent this year, adding that one billion kuna was spent for this purpose. Pavić also said that the issue of transport costs had been resolved, costing 140 million kuna more than last year. Christmas bonuses and holiday allowance was another half a billion kuna.
The minister said the announced strike was legitimate, but that the government, which manages the budget, gave its maximum offer which is in accordance with budgetary possibilities for next year.
Commenting on the unions’ dissatisfaction with the pension reform, Pavić said the government, at the proposal of trade unions, had cushioned the regulation about retirement age being set at 67, and that the application would begin in 2033 and not 2031, as originally planned.
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