Public Sector Unions Seek 3+3+3 Percent Wage Increase

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 – After meeting with the government’s negotiation team on Monday, president of the MHS association of trade unions Vilim Ribić stated that public sector unions are seeking a 3+3+3 percent increase of the base wage and a higher Christmas bonus during the negotiations on a supplement to the basic collective agreement.

Negotiations resumed on Monday in the Ministry of Labour and Pension System between government and union representatives over the basic collective agreement for public sector workers.

Ribić said that the unions are seeking an increase of the base wage next year on the principle of 3+3+3 percent.

“We asked for increasing the Christmas bonus to 2,500 kuna, increasing the budget base to 5,000 kuna and that Christmas allowances for children be increased from 500 to 600 kuna. We agreed to detect together how much salaries in the public sector are lagging behind other sections of society,” Ribić said.

An analysis of that should be completed by the next meeting between the unions and the government. If it is proved that salaries in the public sector are 18.3% lower than in the real sector, as the unions are claiming, that analysis will serve as common stance by the government and unions that it is necessary to remove the wage gap between the public sector in relation to other segments in society.

Ribić confirmed to reporters that the meeting did not discuss an increase of the job complexity index. He does not believe that the government will ban the ongoing strike in schools and hopes that it will offer a coherent solution.

“It is necessary to find a solution so that people who are on strike are not offended and humiliated. They have to be given some sort of satisfaction while, on the other hand, the government need not be a loser,” Ribić said.

The president of the Grand Council of the Independent Union in Science and Higher Education, Igor Radeka, said that education unions were still waiting for the government’s invitation to negotiations.

After a meeting last Tuesday, union representatives said that they expected the government to make on offer regarding union demands this Monday. Radeka recalled that the government had asked for a time-out, but the unions have still not received any invitation to a new meeting.

Branimir Mihalinec of the Independent Union of Secondary School Employees said earlier that the strike in primary and secondary schools was continuing. The rotating strike continued today in schools in Split-Dalmatia and Požega-Slavonia counties.

Minister of Labour and Pension System Josip Aladrović on Monday said that the government is close to an agreement with state administration unions regarding supplements to the basic collective agreement, but at the moment it cannot accept the public sector unions’ demand for a 3+3+3 percent base wage increase.

State administration unions are satisfied with a wage base increase of 6.12% (2+2+2), but they still want to discuss the pace of that increase.

“We are at an advanced stage of finalising an agreement with state administration unions and I expect that at the next meeting we will define the entire agreement on the base wage and material rights for next year. We have found a certain compromise and I think that both sides should be satisfied,” Aladrović told reporters.

At the moment we cannot accept the public sector unions’ demand for a 3+3+3 percent increase of the base wage, Aladrović said. We are offering what we offered at the start, with some possible concessions regarding material rights, he added.

As far as an agreement with unions over a mini analysis of salaries in the public sector and other segments of society are concerned, a meeting has been scheduled for November 21.

The unions claim that salaries in the public sector are falling 18.3% behind the real sector. Aladrović does not believe this to be so. “The gap certainly cannot be 18%, those are unrealistic demands. I think that by refraining from that at today’s meeting, the public sector unions realised that those demands were unrealistic,” he said.

For now, the negotiation positions held by public sector unions and the government are quite apart, but negotiations will continue until an agreement is reached.

“We will meet as much as it takes until we come to a compromise solution,” Aladrović said.

There won’t be any meeting today with striking school unions due to the minister’s other commitments, but a meeting will be held on Tuesday.

“We will talk tomorrow. Our stances continue to be the same. We expect that we will resolve the issue of wages in the education sector too with the basic collective agreement,” Aladrović said.

As far as possibly banning the strike is concerned, he said that it is necessary to see how tomorrow’s meeting will end but for now he denied speculation that repressive action will be taken against the unions.

“We still appeal for the strike to end. We consider that a 6.12% increase of the base wage with the possibility of increasing the job complexity by 2% after 30 June is a reasonable offer,” he said.

He confirmed that striking teachers would be paid their October wage but in future that will depend on the continuation of negotiations.

Asked whether that meant that striking teachers would not be paid their November wage, Aladrović said, “We can look at it that way but we will see after the negotiations.”

More news about public sector in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.


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