Businesses in Croatia's hospitality and catering industry on Saturday called on the government to urgently allow the hiring of 5,000 more foreigners in the tourist sector.
The coordinating body of restaurant and cafe businesses warns that the current labour shortage could negatively affect the ongoing tourist season, thus causing unforeseeable damage to the Croatian economy.
The coordinating body calls on the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) to immediately send 1,600 available workers to coastal tourist resorts.
Demand for temporary workers high
It underscores that although the authorities have allowed the intake of a total of 15,611 foreign workers plus 1,600 Croatians job-seekers, registered on the HZZ register, for this season, the tourism and hospitality sectors still need 5,000 more workers.
This is a consequence of the emigration of working-age Croatians, for whom various political options have not managed to find appropriate solutions, the coordinating body says.
On Friday, the Croatian Employers' Association and the Croatian Tourism Association asked the government to urgently adopt a decision to raise the quota for foreign workers, saying the tourist season was at risk due to a labour shortage.
In a joint statement, they said the opening of some restaurants and bars before the peak tourist season was at stake. "There are no local employees and the quotas for foreign workers have been filled, which requires an urgent response by the Labour Ministry and the government."
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in response to the call for a higher intake of foreign workers that the government was willing to consider an additional increase in the number of work permits for foreigners, however only when all possibilities for hiring local workers were exhausted.
In late December 2018, the Plenkovic cabinet government decided that 65,100 permits could be issued to foreign workers in 2019, including 15,000 permits that have already been extended.
The highest number of work permits refer to construction, tourism and transport.
The quota for 2019 includes 20,331 more work permits than in 2018 and nearly 13,000 referred to tourism and construction.