The president of the Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH), Mladen Novosel, said on Tuesday that six bills as part of the labour and pension legislation should be withdrawn from fast track procedure, claiming that amendments to the laws need to be made well, which requires more time.
Novosel was addressing a press conference by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its Croatian members the SSSH and NHS union federations on the occasion of their conference in Zagreb about unionists' demands for adequate pensions for a decent life in Europe and Croatia.
Novosel: Announcement of legislative amendments political game
Commenting on the government's recent acceptance of the "67 is too much" referendum initiative's demands, Novosel today called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to withdraw the six labour and pension bills from fast track procedure.
"We have an announcement that the government wishes to change the Pension Act which it has put up for public consultation. However, how is it possible now that overnight it is necessary to simultaneously adopt six new bills and that they are so important to fulfil our demands," Novosel said.
Admitting all the unions have not yet defined a unanimous position on the latest developments, Novosel said that there was still a lot of matters that need to be changed in those bills.
He recommended months-long public consultation so as to facilitate a broad and good-quality debate about the changes and assessed Plenkovic's announcement of changing the laws as a political game.
The NHS federation leader, Kresimir Sever, said that the unions did not consider Plenkovic's proposed changes to legislation "as the end of what they had started."
"They have tricked us for too long in various ways and we are equally aware that these decisions would not have been made, were it not for the coming presidential and parliamentary elections, intra-party election conventions in the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Croatia's chairmanship of the EU," said Sever.
He added that the unions would carefully monitor the developments and would be prepared if the government were to delay accepting the demands set by the "67 is too much" initiative.
ETUC expressed its support for the "67 is too much" initiative and the organisation's secretary-general Luca Visentini said that Croatia is currently on the front-line of the struggle in the EU for fair pensions and social welfare system.
Regardless of Prime Minister Plenkovic's promises, we consider that it is necessary to continue the fight. It is very important to ensure that results and objectives that were launched by the referendum initiative, are realised. We need to continue the fight and ensure a just pension and social welfare system for workers in Croatia and in the rest of the EU, Visentini said.
Carr: Croatia's pension eligibility age of 67 would be one of highest in EU
ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr assesses that the pension reform which is aimed at raising the pension eligibility age is unfair and an inefficient solution.
She believes that instead of extending working life Europe's pension policy should be directed to other statistics. According to Eurostat figures for 2016, the healthy life expectancy for women was 64.2 years and 63.5 for men which is below the age retirement threshold.
Croatia's pension eligibility age of 67 would be one of the highest in Europe and the fact that the life expectancy in Croatia is three years shorter than in Europe makes that eligibility age unjust, said Carr.