Government Wants to Negotiate with Unions on Pension Referendum

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 6, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that the government’s pension reform, which was positively assessed in a European Commission report on Wednesday, was being implemented in the interest of pensioners, so that their pensions could be higher and there was no discrimination among pensioners.

Commenting on the EC’s positive assessment of the pension reform, Plenković said that it was good the public was aware of it.

“Everything we have been doing is in the interest of pensioners, so they can have higher pensions and there is no discrimination. We have strengthened the second pension pillar, and are making positive changes, not only through indexation but also by caring about the minimum pensions, and all of that should be borne in mind when analysing our policy.”

He said that the EC’s recommendations provided additional encouragement and were proof that the reform process the government had been conducting for three years “has been acknowledged in the context of the fact that Standard&Poor’s has upgraded Croatia’s rating to the investment category, with GDP growth being it is and the EC recommendations being as they are, and we should pursue our policy.”

The Jutarnji List daily said on Thursday that at a meeting on Wednesday the ruling coalition agreed that negotiations should be launched with trade unions in order to avert a referendum against the pension reform for which around 700,000 signatures have been collected, but that unions are against talks.

Several participants in the ruling coalition’s meeting confirmed to the daily that the purpose of negotiations would be to avert the cancellation of the entire reform and try to save at least some of its segments that are good and acceptable to all and then negotiate with unions on some of the reform elements they consider to be the most contentious.

Meanwhile, a request would be sent to the Constitutional Court to see if the question in the unions’ referendum petition is in line with the constitution, the daily says.

Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević told reporters ahead of a government meeting today that the government was willing to open dialogue with trade unions on the pension reform, and when asked if one of the options was the restoration of the statutory retirement age of 65, Kuščević said that all options were open “if the entire reform is on the table.”

Kuščević said that the parliament should be the one to decide whether the 700,000 signatures collected in the union campaign for a referendum on restoring the retirement age to 65 would be checked, and that the government intended to negotiate with the unions.

“We respect the unions as a social partner and want to open dialogue with them and try to find common ground because it would be a pity if the entire pension reform was scrapped,” Kuščević said, expressing hope unions would accept negotiations.

Asked if one of the options was also the statutory retirement age of 65, the minister said that “all options are open if the entire reform is on the table.”

He added that the purpose of negotiations with unions should be to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said that funds for pensions for this year and next had been secured and were not in question.

He estimated that pension indexation for the first half of the year would be similar or the same in the second half. “This year indexation is slightly higher than planned and we will probably need more funds. My estimate is that instead of 40 billion kuna we will most probably need 41 billion kuna,” the minister said.

He also said that he was generally in favour of dialogue but that he could not comment in greater detail on what would happen if the union referendum against the pension reform was held.

“This is not just a matter of the pension system, or budget revenue and expenditure for one or two years, we are talking about a time horizon of 30-40 years,” he warned.

More news about the pension system can be found in the Politics section.


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