The importance of seasonal work in the Croatian unemployment story.
Dražena Mikulić, a 40-year-old from Nuštar near Vinkovci, has been working for the third year in a row as a seasonal harvester at the Borinci orchards, owned by the Vinka company, harvesting about 400 kilograms of apples every day, reports Jutarnji List on October 29, 2015.
She is one of about 60,000 Croats who each year engage in seasonal work in tourism and in other sectors, including the agriculture. The need for seasonal workers is growing; since 2006, the number of seasonal workers has increased by more than 15,000. The difference between unofficial and official data is explained by the fact that a large number of workers make direct deals with employers. Although her job is not easy, Mikulić does not have much choice. Ever since she was declared redundant in the Interior Ministry in 2002, where she had worked in administration, she has to accept virtually any job that is offered to her.
“Whenever a job opens, I apply, whether it is a seasonal or a temporary job”, Mikulić says. The Vinka company reports that this year they had fewer seasonal workers, so they had to extend the harvest season. They did not look for new workers, since a lot of people give up after a few days and go to look for easier jobs, and they do not have much time to train new seasonal workers.
Davorko Vidović, advisor for employment policy at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, says that the key problem of the labour market is its very low activity, especially in certain age groups. For example, only 52.2 percent of people aged between 50 and 64 work. In order to activate the working-age population, Vidović says it is necessary to reduce the rigidity of the labour market and make labour legislation more flexible. Small, seasonal jobs are just one of the possible solutions.
“Seasonal jobs in tourism and agriculture annually employ between 50,000 to 60,000 people, which is a significant number. I think that for every working-age man or women it is very important to be active in the labour market and not to sit at home”, Predrag Bejaković, from the Institute of Public Finances, says.