Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic spoke to the press on Tuesday after the Zagreb County Court temporarily banned the strike in the state-owned national flag carrier Croatia Airlies, announced to begin on Wednesday.
Pilots, cabin crew and aircraft mechanics employed at the state-owned national flag carrier Croatia Airlines announced last week they would go on strike starting on August 8, after their demands have not been met, and the last attempt to reach a compromise with company management failed on Monday.
Zagreb County Court on Tuesday issued an interim decision banning a strike at Croatia Airlines announced for Wednesday, due to the financial damage the strike could cause the company. The hearing will continue on Wednesday at 10.00 when a decision on whether the strike would be legal is expected.
The workers' primary issue concerns appointing the new management which would make it possible to finally sign a new collective agreement, after the last one had expired in December 2016.
“If the reason for a strike is to blackmail the government into action, than that needs to be said,” Butkovic said, adding that “workers’ rights were not in jeopardy, and no one is taking away any rights in the interest of the company and the workers.”
“This situation was not necessary, we’ve been saying that from the beginning. The (Transport) Ministry got involved in this last year, we held a few meetings on the subject, and the result is that the old collective agreement continued to be implemented, along with some other rights which were not a part of it,” Butkovic said.
“There was no need to take this action. I call on the workers and the management to sit down and talk. The only way out of this is finding a strategic partner, and this is why the company was returned to the list of strategically important companies. A strike would not be in the interest of neither the company, nor the workers, and we are calling for dialogue,” Butkovic said.
The workers’ union’s attorney, Albin Hotic, said earlier today that the minister had influenced the court decision with a letter he sent to Croatia Airlines on Monday.
In the letter, Butkovic said that there was no justifiable reason to go on the announced strike at the height of the tourist season, and he listed all the negative sides of such an action.
“I reject all insinuations of pressuring the court. I, as a minister, cannot do that. A strike at a moment when Croatia Airlines’ revenues are higher is not good, I’ve been saying that from the beginning,” Butkovic said.
The strike could cause chaos in air traffic at the height of the tourist season, when Croatia Airlines has nearly 100 flights carrying 10,000 passengers every day.
Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic said on Friday that "it will be very difficult for Croatia Airlines to survive the strike."
The company’s current management said last week that the airline could suffer losses of up to €800,000 a day during the duration of the strike, adding it will also affect nearly 7,000 passengers on just the first day.