As Dalmatinski portal writes, this resulted in some very serious headaches to multiple local tourist boards. More and more tourist boards are publicly pointing out the illogicality of legal changes that have now put directors at a disadvantage. Criticism was directed primarily at the relevant Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the initiator of the disputed law, holding it responsible for what they consider to be such poor legislation.
Everything is actually happening at a very untimely moment, at a time when local communities are preparing seriously and diligently for the rapidly approaching summer tourist season, which, according to all projections, is expected to surpass last year’s. There’s no doubt that the most is expected from the tourist boards during this preparatory time. They are all already designing and planning their tourist programmes and facilities, organising events, and offering training sessions for private renters so that everyone is ready to accept tourists. Instead of all energies being directed to the best possible preparation of tourist destinations, the leaders of tourist boards, as well as the local governing units are having to spend their precious time dealing with the election of their directors, Brac danas (Brac today) writes.
The directors of local tourist boards are outraged at the move
It was these elections that caused an avalanche of dissatisfaction, and the tourist boards were forced to act according to legal provisions which, according to the public, don’t really seem very logical, justified or meaningful. The negative reactions are mostly coming in from out in the field, and the directors of the tourist boards are indignant. I can’t believe what they’re doing at the moment and how, in their opinion, the Ministry is overstepping when it comes to their rights and everything they’ve done and are doing for the development of local tourism. One of them, the long-term director of the Tourist Board in Bol, Markito Marinkovic, went through all the joys and sorrows of engaging in work related to tourism, in that particular island tourist Mecca, won numerous awards, and is now full of astonishment at the controversial decisions being made by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport in the form of a law which applies to the directors of tourist boards.
Marinkovic warns: This provision is applicable only in pro futuro sense…
”After 27 years of work, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport is questioning my employment contract, which I’ve concluded for an indefinite period of time,” said the current director of the Bol Tourist Board, Markito Marinkovic, who is also a signatory of the request for constitutional review of the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism. After consulting with legal experts, that request was sent to the address of the Constitutional Court, requesting that the Constitutional Court address this issue, which, as he said, will result in some serious legal consequences.
Marinkovic is ready to show the documentation with which he’s armed himself, including the request he sent to the Constitutional Court, emphasising that the main problem of legal norms is their application to current (read existing) directors of tourist boards, instead of having them apply solely to any new directors.
”This provision is applicable only pro futuro (for future actions) and only for new employment and concluding employment contracts with directors of tourist boards who were employed after the 1st of January 2022. We can’t apply this provision to directors who concluded their employment contracts for an indefinite period of time before the entry into force of the new Law on Tourist Board, because in that case, there’d be a violation of Article 90 Paragraph 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia on the prohibition of the retroactive application of the law,” Markito Marinkovic says when reading part of the request that has now been sent to the Constitutional Court, not hesitating to say that this is a law that is unconstitutional and illegal.
The Ministry of Tourism wrote back in 2012: There are no obstacles to the conclusion of an indefinite contract
In an interview for Brac danas, Markito Marinkovic openly asked the following:
”Why would I agree to have my contract for an indefinite period of time terminated and instead accept an offer a contract for a part-time job?” He noted that he signed his employment contract back on December the 15th, 2009, for an indefinite period of time as the tourist board director there. His contract was concluded in accordance with the provisions of the then Labour Act, the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, as well as the provisions of the Statute of the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Bol. The fact that there is nothing disputable in his contract was confirmed by the Ministry of Tourism in its interpretation on June the 27th, 2012, to which Marinkovic refers, and in which he unequivocally points out that ”there is no obstacle to concluding an employment contract for an indefinite period in accordance with the Labour Law as the regulator”.
Marinkovic also pointed out the absurdity of these new legal provisions, claiming that tourist boards will elect directors who already have employees within the tourist board.
Marinkovic: We’ll end up with two directors, one for an indefinite period and the other for a definite period…
Formerly ”protected” directors of tourist boards, who were employed indefinitely with their employers, will now be elected for a fixed term, more precisely for a term of four years, as determined by the now disputed law. Current directors will now find themselves at the mercy of their employers who, according to instructions issued to the tourist boards by the competent Ministry, should terminate existing contracts and offer them amended contracts with a specific duration attached to them. Such a thing is simply not acceptable for Markito Marinkovic, which is the reason why he didn’t apply for the position of head of the Bol Tourist Board.
”It seems that we’re going to have two directors by the will of the ministry; one for an indefinite period of time, and the other for a definite period, which will be elected by the Tourist Council under the new Act,” he added, noting that the instructions, written back in December last year and subsequently sent out to the country’s local tourist boards, are also confusing and difficult to follow properly. According to the guidelines signed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport’s Monika Udovicic, current directors who aren’t selected in a tender and those to whom the institution doesn’t offer another job within the tourist board will receive a termination of their employment contract.
”How is it possible for a director to become an organisational redundancy, and for someone else to be hired for that position? The Labour Law stipulates that a business-related dismissal (contract termination) can only be given if the need to perform a certain job ceases. In addition to that, another person can’t be hired following that for the next six months,” Markito Marinkovic said, clearly terribly surprised by the numerous illogicalities that the Ministry somehow keeps on coming up with owing to their controversial decisions and interpretations of things.
Why was the tender for the position of the director of the Bol Tourist Board cancelled?
When it comes to the tender for the election of the director of the Tourist Board of Bol, it became somewhat unstuck on the very first step. After the tender deadline expired, and interested candidates submitted their applications and received notification(s) of the presentation of the programme at a session of the Tourist Council, the same council, at the suggestion of the President of that body of the Tourist Board, Katarina Marcic, agreed to the cancellation of the tender. The explanation for that was:
”We want to eliminate every single slight suspicion of illegality of the procedure. According to Marcic’s announcement and her public attempt to explain the reasons why the tender was annulled, these aren’t serious irregularities, at least not according to the statement of the Ministry to which Marcic refers. It’s true, the tender was open for 21 days, while the recommendations lasted from 8 to 15 days. Experts on the election procedures we contacted are of the opinion that the tender deadline which is longer than the deadline recommended by the competent ministry should not call into question the legality of the election procedure. All in all, a new tender will be drawn up, a check by the Ministry will be awaited, and then another tender will be announced. Whether it’s really an election procedure or some other reason why the Tourist Council decided to return everything to the beginning, only time can tell.
The Constitutional Court has since confirmed: The case has been assigned to a judge-rapporteur
Brac danas contacted the Constitutional Court. They were interested in what happened to the request for a review of constitutionality under the controversial Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, and when the request would be on the agenda. The Constitutional Court confirmed that it had received a motion for assessment.
”The case has been assigned to a judge-rapporteur, and at this moment it isn’t possible to predict when it could be sent to the session of the Court to decide on the proposal,” said the Secretary General of the Constitutional Court, Dr. Teodor Antic. Back in mid-April, Markito Marinkovic addressed the Constitutional Court yet again, this time in a hurry, at a time when the tender for the position of director was open.
”Considering that in the meantime, more precisely on April the 1st, 2022, the Tourist Council of the Tourist Board of Bol announced a public tender for the election of the director for a term of four years referring to the provisions of ZTZ, and ignoring the employment contract concluded on an indefinite basis between me and the Tourist Board of Bol for the same job for which a public tender has now been announced. It’s obvious that the implementation of this tender will violate my employment rights,” Markito Marinkovic wrote in his letter. He emphasised, in addition, that the above-mentioned actions of tourist boards will generate numerous lawsuits in the near future due to the disputed provisions of the law.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sport isn’t responding to press inquiries on the matter
Given the fact that only the competent ministry is looking at the disputed tender for the director of the Bol Tourist Board, and especially at the request sent to Prisavlje 14 in Zagreb by a concerned resident of Bol, asking for the tender to be annulled, the ministry was also asked to comment on the topic. A press inquiry with specific questions was sent to the Press Service on May the 1st, as Brac danas had received an anonymous letter to its editorial e-mail about a possible illegal tender being announced by the Tourist Council.
The aforementioned publication still hasn’t received a response from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. On several occasions, they also tried to contact the Media Service by phone and find out what this delay was about. After several calls, they were once connected to the press service, and in another case, an official of the ministry apologised for not providing a timely response. A reminder of the inquiry was then sent to the cabinet of the same Ministry, on May the 6th, asking for answers to the questions which had been sent already. However, the main cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport hasn’t yet responded or attempted to clarify any of the issued mentioned in this article.
For more, check out our politics section.