Public Sector Unions Boycott Negotiations with Government

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Just two out of eight public sector unions came to the meeting with government representatives.

Six public sector unions held a press conference today about “negotiations with the government which did not take place”. The trade union representatives reiterated they did want to negotiate and invited the government to come to a meeting on Monday, but insisted that Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković comes because they believe “he must become aware of the scale of the problems he is facing”, reports on April 12, 2016.

Unions demand an increase in base salary by six percent for about 250,000 people, according to an agreement from 2009 which came into force on 1 January 2016. The government does not deny that the trade unions have the right to the raise, but it would need about 1.8 billion kuna a year for the increase. These funds have not been appropriated in the 2016 state budget and in the budget projections for 2017 and 2018.

Vilim Ribić from the Independent Union of Science and Higher Education said that the unions were first which requested a meeting with Finance Minister. “Aware of the fact that there is a kind of pressure caused by the agreement and that it could all end up in courts, we were the initiators of negotiations and we understood that the new government did not know all the details. We want to negotiate, but negotiations must be well prepared, otherwise they would just be a waste of time. Therefore, the meeting should be prepared and include the Prime Minister because we are talking about several billion kuna. The Prime Minister has to attend at least the first meeting in order to realise the scale of the problem”, said Ribić.

He believes that, if Orešković has time for, as he said, third-class bankers in Austria and to deal with ideological problems, then he must find time for the unions as well. “If he does not have time, then it is not a problem – he will go his way, and we will go our way”, said Ribić.

Asked if he was informed by the government about changes to the Law on Labour, according to which a nine-hour work day would be introduced, Ribić said he knew nothing about it. “We have learnt about it from the media. No one informed us about anything”, said Ribić.

The meeting of negotiating committees of the government and representatives of the trade unions of public and state services scheduled for 1 April was postponed due to commitments of several members of the government negotiating team. This morning’s negotiations were attended by representatives of only two out of eight trade unions from the public services while others representatives organized the press conference.


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