The Labour Ministry launched an emergency procedure to increase the legally mandated quotas for foreign workers allowed to work in the country, from 31,000 to 35,500. The changes will significantly increase the quotas for the tourist industry, in what is one more sign of the labour shortages ahead of the tourist season.
The tourism sector, which was initially allocated 4,660 permits for foreign workers, will now get 7,660. Although the government had estimated in December that 3,715 foreigners would be enough to tide over the peak tourist summer season, the number has climbed to 6,715 in early June. The workers needed include general hospitality workers, as well as cooks, waiters, masseurs, etc, increasing the annual work permit quotas in tourism.
But even this will not be enough, as the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of allocating permits, will be given free reign to re-assign unused permits that the government has approved for other sectors of the economy. Labour Minister Marko Pavic said that the greatest numbers of unused quotas are in construction, shipbuilding, food, manufacturing, and metalworking industries, Vecernji List daily reported on Thursday.
Trade unions and employers' associations were given a single day to voice their opinion on the proposal, with employers hailing the increase and unions complaining that changing quotas less than six months after the initial allocations were proscribed clearly shows that the government has no clue about what is going on in the labour market.