ZAGREB, October 11, 2019 – The leader of the Association of Croatian Trade Unions (MHS), Vilim Ribić, said on Friday that a radical, double-digit wage increase in public services was a first-class national interest, assessing that there was 4.7 billion kuna available for that in the state budget.
“Our children are leaving the country, 400,000 have left. In that situation all dogmas about financial consolidation, public debt and deficit need to be put aside. We have to use our last internal reserves,” Ribić said after the start of negotiations on an annex to the basic collective agreement for public sector employees.
Ribić recalled that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić had forecast a deficit of 0.9% of GDP yet a surplus was generated. That means that there is about 4.7 billion kuna available for a possible wage increase, he said.
“That leaves room for a double-digit wage increase. That is a psychological message to the people that things are changing for the better, that they need to stay in Croatia and that not everything is hopeless. We should not be bailing out companies before we save the people,” said Ribić.
“We constantly have situations like the one in Uljanik and it is time for citizens of this country to have their turn,” he added.
The government’s negotiation team, Ribić said, insists that there is a lack of money due to financial consolidation, however, public sector unions have pointed out that the enormous number of people emigrating, low wages and the dissatisfaction of the people are a much more important problem.
“We believe that considering the current budget potential, the government can meet union demands without any problems. We expect a significant step forward regarding wage increases because wages are growing much faster in neighbouring countries. Of all eastern European countries, Croatia has been at the bottom of the ladder regarding wage increases over the past five years,” Ribić underscored.
Negotiations on the collective agreement for public services will continue over the next ten days, with Ribić underscoring that there is a lot to be discussed, however, raising the base pay is a priority.
Commenting on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s message that the strike in schools was absurd, Ribić said that the message is irresponsible. The prime minister is a diplomat who is not familiar with economic processes, he said. “People have the right to strike and he has to re-examine his starting position,” Ribić added.
More news about trade union in Croatia can be found in the Business section.