Trade Unions and Employers Clash over Retirement Age Referendum

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 – The “67 Is Too Much” referendum initiative on Tuesday said that the Croatian Employers Association’s (HUP) claim that the union campaign for a referendum against raising the statutory retirement age to 67 will not change the problems in the pension system shows yet once again that HUP does not understand the problems in the pension system nor Croatia’s reality.

“Referendums evidently cannot contribute to resolving problems in the pension system nor is it their purpose. As such it is absolutely out of place to express such a criticism of the union initiative. The aim of this referendum is something entirely different and that is self-defence from the egoism of political elites for the sake of protection of the people and their dignity in their senior years,” said the initiative, consisting of three trade unions.

The initiative was responding to claims made yesterday by HUP that a possible union referendum on whether retirement age should be set at 67 will not help resolve the problems of the pension system.

Representatives of the referendum initiative underscore that HUP is hypocritical when it calls on unions to engage in a responsible dialogue and asks if “HUP is the organisation of those who advocate a retirement age of 67 yet at the same time won’t employ anyone older than 55 or fires them?”

“Are we talking about the organisation of those that forced 79% of workers into early retirement (the other 20% left due to illness and just 1% went into retirement voluntarily)? As for responsibility, was it members of HUP that drastically reduced the cost of labour over the past 10 years and wholeheartedly supported governments that implemented such suicidal economics, which has led to the economic depression and the exodus of the population and drastically worsened working conditions? Now HUP, too, advocates higher wages but it wants taxpayers to help them achieve it,” the initiative says in a press release.

The unions consider it to be irresponsible to say that as few as 20 percent of pensioners earned their pensions based on the required number of years of service or old age without mentioning the policies that caused it.

The initiative notes that HUP is not calling on the government to implement an active economic policy or ensure higher growth rates, higher employment and higher wages, or prepare for the fourth industrial revolution but is only calling for encouraging payments into the 2nd pension pillar.

“Since the 2nd pillar is a source of profit for HUP’s cronies and at the same time a source of the budget deficit and public debt, we expect HUP to continue supporting the government in its fight against the budget deficit and public debt by calling for the restriction of workers’ rights,” the referendum initiative said.

HUP on Monday said that the main problem of the pension system is the fact that as few as 20 percent of pensioners earned their pensions based on the required number of years of service or old age, noting that the average duration of working life in Croatia is slightly over 30 years and urging the unions and politicians to discuss the pension reform responsibly, without populist rhetoric.

More news about the referendum can be found in the Politics section.


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