Zagreb County Court ruled on Thursday that a strike in the state-owned national flag carrier Croatia Airlines (CA), announced by the workers’ union ORCA, was illegal.
“I believe this decision is a great relief for our passengers who now know they can continue their vacation, but also for domestic airlines,” Branka Sremac, member of CA management board, said after the court ruling.
“The message of Croatia Airlines is, as the court ruling confirmed for everyone: negotiations, negotiations, negotiations,” she added.
We are very socially sensitive, we have a tradition of collective negotiations, we are here and we need to talk. We aren’t a company that can raise salaries just like that, we don’t have sufficient earnings (for that), she said and called on the unions to do their job and show up for negotiations.
"Negotiations began last spring, we first waited for the ORCA union to form. The negotiations were late, they began after the collective agreement had already expired, and Croatia Airlines continues to implement it to this day,” Sremac said.
The last collective agreement expired in December 2016, and Croatia Airlines has been without a CEO since September 2016.
"The framework was lacking, the discrepancy (between unions’ demands and management position) is huge and they just decided that they wouldn’t negotiate with the employer anymore. I don’t think anything can be solved by going on a strike. I was also the first to say that I don’t think that this ends with a court ruling. We need to iron out our disagreements, there must be compromise from both sides,” she said.
Head of the ORCA union Antonio Corak said the union was disappointed by the court decision and announced they would appeal to the Supreme court in the hope that it will overturn the ruling.
ORCA now has eight days to appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed by the way in which this decision was reached, they said we did not negotiate in good faith. I don’t know how that decision is possible. Only because of our good faith was this strike postponed for so long,” he said.
Croatia Airlines management said the union was offered a new collective agreement, which they had refused.
“the management had offered us an agreement which we weren’t happy with. That is in no way a sign of bad faith. We had proposed our own version of a collective agreement,” Corak said.
The company had also said that fulfilling the unions’ demands, which would cost the company some 50 million kuna (€7 million), was simply impossible.
“First, that sum is overblown. We think that, if they cannot put aside the funds, they should change the way they do business or let someone else manage the company,” he said.