Trade Union Files Lawsuits against Government

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Government could be sued for more than a billion kuna for unpaid salary increases.

The government is facing the danger of mass lawsuits worth more than a billion kuna in total – excluding court costs and interest – which could be filed by public sector employees due to the government’s non-compliance with an agreement to increase their base salary by six percent, reports on November 23, 2016.

On Wednesday, the Municipal Court in Zagreb received first four lawsuits filed by teachers who are backed by the Union of Croatian Education Workers “Revival”. The leader of the union Željko Stipić said that these were just token lawsuits, which had been filed as a warning to the government what will happen if it does not comply with an annex to the agreement on the basis for salaries of workers in the public sector, which was signed in 2009. Under the agreement, when GDP growth reaches the average of two percent over two consecutive quarters, the base salary must be increased by six percent. These conditions were met at the beginning of this year.

“These are the first token lawsuits which cover a period of ten months. We will submit more such lawsuits at courts in Osijek and Split. Each teacher individually demands about 5,000 kuna without interest and court costs. We expect the judiciary to correct the mistake made by politicians. We are talking about approximately a hundred million kuna a month, and with each new month the debt will only grow”, said Stipić, adding that he was confident that the courts would rule in favour of workers.

Other trade union leaders have not welcomed his move. Branimir Mihalinec, president of the Independent Union of Employees in Secondary Education, thinks that the lawsuit is unnecessary because the negotiations with the government have started and it still remains to be seen how they will proceed. Vilim Ribić, head of the Association of Trade Unions, accused Stipić for trying to promote himself.

Stipić responded that it was necessary to distinguish between two separate problems. The first is the fate of the agreement on the base salary, which is under discussion and which will determine the salaries of employees in the coming years. Another problem is debt incurred by non-compliance with an annex to the agreement.

“By filing these lawsuits, we have clearly separated these two problems. We can negotiate about the future, but we cannot negotiate about the debt. The debt claims can just be founded or unfounded. If the claims are founded, then the debt must be repaid. I believe that unions have a duty to fight for better financial status of workers, and to look whether agreements are being respected. Employees must receive what they are entitled to. In addition, trade unions will have a better negotiating position if the courts rule as we expect them to”, concluded Stipić.


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