Civil servants' unions said on Wednesday after meeting with government officials that the Christmas bonus should be paid as should the 2+2% increase in the base pay, previously agreed for 1 January 2021, describing this as a sort of reward to workers in the current difficult situation.
"We have understanding, considering the coronavirus situation and the general state of the budget. But given the exposure of civil servants, police and others whose scope of duties has increased due to the pandemic, we believe this would be a sort of reward," said Iva Suskovic of the union of civil servants in local and central government bodies.
Just like public sector trade unions, civil servants' unions, too, believe the Christmas bonus should be paid, and that the agreed increase in the base pay should go into force on January 1.
Suskovic said the government's proposal not to pay the Christmas bonus would be discussed at the next meeting, until which time the proposal would be received in writing, after which it would be forwarded to union members for consideration.
"We will see what they think, but I believe they think the government should pay the Christmas bonus," she said.
Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said the government's proposal was due to the situation in the state budget, a drop in GDP and a budget deficit.
"He did not say that there is no money but that it would be sensible to discuss a possible suspension. We did not discuss other entitlements," Suskovic said.
The leader of the Independent Union of Ministry of the Interior Employees, Zdravko Loncar, said that it was difficult to expect the government in the current situation to increase wages and entitlements for civil servants.
"We will negotiate in good faith. We will not rush and will wait for the next meeting and more concrete proposals," said Loncar.